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As former Yugoslavia was falling apart, so did the financial and social stability of Serbia. Social extremes were visible everywhere, especially among the youths. War, inflation, physical isolation and sanctions all contributed to Serbia becoming a type of ghetto. This was most visible in Serbia's capital Belgrade, which had a steep downfall in all aspects of life. In this isolation, the young were creating their own worlds. The film is set in the second half of the 1990s in Belgrade, seen from the perspectives of young adults, and about their efforts to find themselves while circumstances were pulling them to the bottom of a chaotic whirlpool. The film follows the three main characters: Bogdan, Kale and Count, in three separate stories, but all of them are intertwined. It follows their lives for 48 hours which is enough to change them completely. Written by
In the early post-war years, an innocent, young artist who was dragged into the whirl(pool) of Serbian war reality of 90's, is trying to get rid of his traumatic experience...
I recently saw this peace at the Montreal World Film Festival (FFM), and my opinion is that the Serbian cinema must be proud of its comeback after three years of absence in the FFM's competition programs.
Made for modest, less than $300.000, Kosovcevic's piece drew much attention with its maturity in expression and skillful directing in accordance with contemporary cinematic style mainly seen in big-budget productions. Blending some of the classical drama fundamentals with modern fragmentary narration, this complex triptych refracts its story through the eyes of an innocent hero nicknamed - The Count (Grof), a young artist who is dragged into the whirl(pool) of Serbian war reality of 90's, by mandatory military service. In the "peaceful", early post-war years, Count's goal is to finish his own work of art that he paints on a street (wall), thus dispelling forever (and literally) the ghost(s) of war that haunts him. In Kosovcevic's urban metaphor, Count's liberation seems to be possible only after his childhood friends, direct representatives of the war's aftermath embodied in a violent skinhead and a criminal, are removed from the same streets.
Unlike typical films from former Yugoslavia that deal with the 1990s war issue, The Whirl can be distinguished by its approach rooted in the very nature of cinematic storytelling, well balancing facts with fiction, not just blindly following one or the other. Furthermore, the main character is proactive (contrary to the usually passive protagonists) - he fights his demons of the past and has a goal to defeat them; bad guys have their own human weaknesses being hunted by their own traumatic experiences (or guilty conscience) from early childhood (or adolescence); and finally, each according to merit is appropriately punished (or rewarded in the case of Count), making this, above all, human story very moral; not just because of the filmmaker's understanding of his characters (which does not mean that he justifies their acts!), but rather by suggesting that there might be a way out - if we confront ourselves (as opposed to one of all-time favorite way of thinking - lay the blame on someone else).
This debut is one of those that even well experienced filmmakers would envy, and for Serbian cinema scene, I believe, should be especially important, because it reveals a new filmmaker that deserves attention.
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