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Makes you let your emotional guard down before it punches you
Shok takes place during the brutal Kosovo War, a war which divided Albanians and Serbians. Writer/director Jamie Donoughue showcases the war through the eyes of two young Albanian boys, Petrit and Oki (Lum Veseli and Andi Bajgora), who are harassed by Serbian soldiers one day, which results in Petrit making a deal with one of the soldiers that involves selling Oki's bicycle. Disgusted at his friends' compliance with the enemy, the two briefly separate before realizing that they are all they have in a war-torn land.
Rather than revolving around a coming of age narrative that is ripe for yet another tired showcase of innocence lost, Donoughue is diligent with emphasizing friendship and the need for trusting someone when everyone but your family seems like the enemy. There is a constant feeling of dread throughout the entire picture, and just when you feel the short will end rather inconsequentially, it hits you with a riveting and unexpected sequence that will affect the lives of the boys forever.
Shok nicely paces itself in that it almost forces you to let your guard down as a viewer, forgetting to expect the unexpected, before hitting you with an emotional punch that comes effectively in the latter half of the short. While Donoughue enters the narrative from a fairly easy point of entry - focusing on two young, innocent boys - comes with a story to tell and not with an agenda, which is all too easy to do with short films like this one. It's all worth it for that riveting and heartwrenching final shot that feels burned into my retina, at least temporarily.
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