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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film at the 20th Festival of East European Cinema in
Cottbus, Germany, where it also won the award for the best film.
Story: A woman who killed her husband leaves prison and comes back home (to the city of Bor, Serbia) where she meets her daughter and two former boyfriends. A complicated emotional situation arises when her daughter gets too close with one of her former boyfriends.
About the movie: It's a medium-paced movie taking its time to introduce all characters yet leaving space for imagination and curiosity how all of them might be related to each other. One really interesting aspect of this movie is that it introduces musical-like elements in which the main characters sing (but don't dance). While this irritated me in the beginning (I am absolutely no fan of musicals) I started to really like this element and the way the actors sung. Another interesting aspect of the movie is how it spends a lot of moments on showing the city of Bor and the people living and working in it. It's a city full of plants, chimneys and simple living buildings and the economical decline and the simple living conditions are very obvious. The movie uses subtle metaphorical language that focuses mainly on its main characters. The script is based on the classic Greek tragedy (as also stated by the script writer after the screening of the movie) but even though the story really is a tragedy the movie doesn't feel overly heavy and manages to keep a certain level of lightheartedness.
Verdict: I really liked the movie. All actors performed perfectly and the story was engaging and believable. The movie really dragged me into another environment and made me feel like I'm in Bor - close to the main characters. A great achievement that not many movies accomplish that well. It's an affectionate picture of the city of Bor and the people living in it and a great cultural insight into another place and culture. It's definitely worth seeing and has very much deserved its decoration as the festivals best movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Written after a screening at Cambridge Film Festival (UK) 15 to 25
* Contains spoilers *
I have read in both another review and in the Festival booklet that this film has transported 'a famous Greek tragedy' to a modern Serbian setting, but I cannot see which one, if it is actually famous (or if it is Greek tragedy), has anything like this plot outline (not even if genders are switched).
The existing review on IMDb gives this as the story: A woman who killed her husband leaves prison and comes back home (to the city of Bor, Serbia) where she meets her daughter and two former boyfriends. A complicated emotional situation arises when her daughter gets too close with one of her former boyfriends.
Some suggest that it is Euripedes' Electra, but, unlike that play, the woman killed her husband on her own and has been punished for it. Moreover, this act is not in vengeance, nor is what happens to the former boyfriend. With so much changed, the claim that this is the same story is doubtful.
There is nothing wrong with the improbable happening in such tragedies, but for someone not to know who the daughter of a former lover is or even to have seen her before when they live in such a small place is implausible (she may know who he is: in some scenes, we are invited to believe that everyone knows who he is and reveres him).
In any case, it does not stop him having sex, in a highly perfunctory way, early on with this bored, beautiful young woman, but, with his and her attitude to life, only the highly artificial state of affairs of only having met that night means that this activity could not happen until then. From the point where we learn who she is, the film lost credibility, and I could happily have not stayed for the end.
Doing so did not, I fear, gain me much (other than insights into drug-taking, callousness, and ways of provocatively using bank-notes). Amidst so many films that I had read about and chosen what to view from, I had forgotten which one this was but, in any case, a film should speak for itself and knew only that the characters would sing in character. They did so, but it was not an especial revelation, not the promised innovative fusion of film, opera, and a story from the ancient world.
As for the film's claims to have a root in tragedy, that aspect passed me by, and I doubt that knowing of it would have enriched the experience. Certainly, there was more singing in tragedy than is given popular credit for, and the scene of mourning with the crowd had an effect albeit a little ridiculous, given that it concerned the owner of a bar of creating grandeur, of showing a collective voice. Sadly, I was little interested by then, and could but be amazed that the girl's mother is again prepared to sacrifice her life for others who care so little for her.
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