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Shiza is the nickname of a 15-year-old boy. Money, power, and women - he has none of these, yet, in his young life. But, he does have the illegal, underground circuit of bare-knuckle fist-fighting, where he is able to eke out a living by scouting for fighters. When a man is accidentally killed in the ring, though, his life is changed forever. He decides that he should return the dead man's money to his widow and child. But, after he meets the woman, Shiza understands that he has real feelings of love for her. Now, he knows for whom he must earn money, no matter what the cost...Written by
Official selection from Kazakhstan for OSCAR 2005 See more »
A Fresh Take on the Poor Kid Trying to do the Right Thing
"Schizo (Shiza)" is a wonderful demonstration of how new world cinema can take old stories that we've seen in the movies before and make them fresh in a new context.
We've all seen the movie about the poor, naive kid in way over his head with the local gangsters, who provide the only jobs in the neighborhood, then he starts feeling sorry for his boss's victims and tries to do the right thing for the survivors.
Debut director and co-writer Gulshat Omarova takes a unique approach through several elements.
First is the striking views of Kazakhstan in what has to be some of the bleakest locales of economic hopelessness and anarchy since the "Mad Max" movies, and this isn't post-apocalyptic science fiction.
Second is the striking casting of first-time or amateur actors with simply marvelous faces and on screen presence, particularly the young man playing the titularly nicknamed character. I'm sure U.S. audiences are missing some of the inter-ethnic tensions that can only be guessed as the actors have a variety of racial features, from Russian to Central and East Asian to Middle Eastern, let alone their accents or use of language.
Also unique is how the story has the tenderness of Truffaut's "The Four Hundred Blows" in seeing how an out of kilter kid gets treated harshly in this environment, from lousy schools to incompetent doctors, and has to grow up too fast.
While the film is excellent at demonstrating how raw masculinity and cruelty thrives in this brutal atmosphere, it is beautiful at showing the attraction of domesticity as women have appeal beyond (though of course including) sex. It manages to make unlikely relationships touching and credible as humans strive to create family out of whatever fractured groupings are available to them. It reinvents the love story.
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