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Srpski film (2010)
A Serbian Film defies belief and resists categorization. It doesn't belong to any particular genre and crosses many boundaries. Perhaps the best way to note this is via the way it mixes the tropes of the horror film with the *aspirations* of a documentary.
There can be no denying that the film is an act of transgression - it sets out to 'outrage and violate basic mores and sensibilities' (to quote the hallowed Wikipedia). Make no mistake though - A Serbian's Film's transgressive act is itself grounded in moral outrage.
Ironically, the bland title provides the best way to get a handle on its extremities. This is a Serbian film - which is to say, it is the product of a country torn apart by a civil war and still in a state of shock. Consequently, the film is a document of that horror and is ideally understood as a gaping wound.
The plot is pretty straightforward: its the execution that is way out there. It's probably best to experience the film like the main character. Despite the building dread, allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security so as to be caught unawares.
So relax and enjoy the peep show. And then be prepared to watch it from behind your fingers. You might even throw up in your mouth.
Don't come here looking for restraint or circumspection - overkill is literally its theme and directive. It arguably treats its analogy too literally - it depicts the rape and destruction of a country within the context of a snuff movie.
A Serbian Film takes the pornographic notion of nationalism and exposes its dark underbelly. You can decide whether A Serbian Film's main analogy cuts a little too close to the boner though.
Since the film primarily emerges from the psychological state of its embattled protagonist, we invariably see the snuff movie that is Serbia through his glazed eyes. The porn star's resulting trauma - his moral descent and degradation - invariably becomes a place marker for Serbia's own traumatized psyche, leaving the viewer similarly besieged and shell shocked.
If your looking for a serious examination of the Serbian conflict or a moral dissection of war crimes, you've definitely come to the wrong place. And if you've come here to get off on the possibility of sexually explicit material or gratuitous violence , be very afraid (and generally disappointed): this is in no way 'entertaining'.
The film is essentially a catalog of escalating horrors and moral affronts. It's no accident that sex and violence are joined at the (severed) limb, or part of its theater of war.
Particularly unfortunate is the film's tendency to transfer moral responsibility onto a government guilty of whipping its populace into a frenzy.
According to A Serbian Film, citizens didn't really know what they were getting into: they were just following orders in a state induced haze and euphoria. That might be true enough, but such a displacement (or aversion) betrays a curious lack of courage where it morally counts.
Nonetheless, the film remains a testament to the filmmaker's integrity when probing an exposed wound in such unflinching and uncompromising terms.