Romance Wrapped Up In Betrayal and Intrigue: Go see it.
If you are a fan of Cold War drama (which is making a huge comeback lately), I would definitely recommend this engaging movie based loosely on real events in communist era Albania.
I saw it recently at the Vienna Independent Film Festival and I was fascinated by the vibrant performances, and subject matter from a country trapped in oppression.
Writer/Director Kast Hasa shapes the story well, and he managed to do a terrific job with casting largely unknown characters who are credible and appealing in their roles. The audience becomes quite attached to the young lovers who play a deadly game with romance in a country where most decisions are made by the government.
Hasa uses the dramatic foil of a man returning from America who turns the little village upside down as the authorities use him to create more turmoil. A father is accused of collaboration with this American enemy , and his family is exiled to internment. A young woman is being forced to marry a member of the ruling party to ensure protection for her family. Both of these plots , including a subplot about a woman who must demean herself in order to visit her brother in prison--Well, everything collides just like a Shakespearean play and the result is as dramatic as one would expect.
Even though this was not a big budget film, the production plays well on the big screen, including textured photography and the scenes filmed on location in Albania are in the exact location where citizens were locked up after any real or imagined transgressions.
Films about Albania are far and few between. This small gem of a movie may not be produced in Hollywood, but the cautionary tale of what can happen in a closed society rings very authentic. I would say it is worth seeing, whether that is in a festival or a streaming service.
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