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One week in a life of Branimir Mitrovic "Floyd", a young rally driver from the National Class (up to 785cc), dreaming of promotion to the higher category. He lives a carefree life of a Belgrade dandy boy, neglecting his girlfriend, avoiding his draft calls, and refusing to deal with any life responsibility in general. The decisive race on Saturday is only what he cares about. Written by
In an Oscar-worthy performance, Dragan Nikolic stars as Branimir Mitrovic Floyd, a 27-year old race car driver of a Fiat 600 (affectionately known as the "Fica" in the former Yugoslavia), aspiring to advance to the prestigious "National" racing class. Inspired in part by the true-life story of Montenegrin film director Branko Baletic, with an all-star cast also featuring the legendary Danilo Bata Stojkovic, Olivera Markovic, Voja Brajovic, Irfan Mensur, Bogdan Diklic, Rahela Ferari, Aleksandar Bercek, Gorica Popovic, and others, "Nacionalna klasa" is easily among the top 10 movies ever made in Serbia. We witness one week in the life of Branimir Mitrovic Floyd.
And what an exciting life it is! On a typical day, Floyd goes from one adventure to the next, juggling a lot of things at once: he's trying to sort out his relationship with his rich girlfriend Silja, who informs him that she's pregnant and wants to break up with him; he's trying to avoid a shotgun wedding, being forced on him by Silja's father, a Communist Party apparatchik whom Floyd affectionately calls "cika Moma" (uncle Moma); Floyd is also trying to dodge the draft, with a little help from his shady buddy Papi and a new friend, the dorky but affable Mile "rent-a-bubreg" (Mile rent-a-kidney). Floyd is constantly in action. He's trying to hook up with Senka, a new fling he meets in the halls of Belgrade University; raise money, with the help of his colorful friend Simke, to buy new tires for his aging Fica for the last race of the season; dodge a pesky pensioner, "comrade" Cabor, who claims that Floyd hit his Skoda; and act as a matchmaker for his buddy Zika, a first-rate mechanic who works on Floyd's Fica.
Floyd has made the best of a strained situation: he doesn't have much money and lives with his parents, but that won't stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming the champion of his racing class and having as much fun along the way as possible. Floyd is in a class of his own. After following Senka into a women's bathroom and being admonished by her to leave ("Hey, get out! Some woman's gonna come in here and have a stroke if she sees you."), he retorts with bravado and cool self-confidence: "So what? Hey, do you want to get together later tonight?" Inevitably, the question on every moviegoer's mind is: Will Floyd win the crucial last race of the season? And will our somewhat self-centered hero find a way out of his predicament?
While the movie accurately portrays the blasé atmosphere of Belgrade in the late 1970s, it also provides a subtle criticism of Yugoslavia's communist order by touching on social differences among the various film protagonists. In contrast to common folk such as Floyd's dad (a butcher), Zika (the car mechanic), and Senka (the aspiring college student) -- all of whom struggle to make ends meet -- the Communist Party apparatchik (uncle Moma) and his family are living it up in their villa in the elite suburb of Dedinje. Uncle Moma's work consists of writing position papers and attending Party meetings. And while ordinary pensioners such as "comrade" Cabor and Floyd's great aunt (tetka Nata) live quiet, unassuming lives, the all-powerful army recruiter Vidoje barks at Floyd: "Don't call me 'uncle Rade', the fact that your father and I are friends means nothing."
It's a shame that the film's director, Goran Markovic, never made a sequel. I have often wondered about the destiny of our hero and the other protagonists of this cult classic. What is Floyd up to, three decades later? One fact is indisputable: for many future generations of 20-something urbanites in Serbia seeking adventure and fun, Branimir Mitrovic Floyd will be quite an inspiration.
June 2007 update: In an interview published in the Belgrade daily "Kurir" on June 19, 2007, Dragan Nikolic announced that a sequel may be in the works after all. According to Nikolic: "The story would be interesting to me not because I would play the lead role, but because the plot would center around Floyd's son, who did not use his father's experience in his own life. That's why he has the same problem that his father had - he does not have a good car, yet he wants to be champion, and he's asking himself, like I used to ask myself, can that be accomplished without money? I spoke with Goran Markovic about a sequel, and he is somewhere on the verge of starting to work on this story, if he hasn't already started working on it in the meantime."
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