- Reviewed by: Avril Carruthers
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Current Rating 9/10 | 1 Votes
Produced by Maksa Catovic, László Kántor
Cast: Nebojsa Glogovac, Natasa Ninkovic, Miki Manojlovic, Anica Dobra
Though Mladen (Nebojsa Glogovac) and Marija (Natasa Ninkovic) are not exactly poor, neither are they wealthy enough to afford the expense of a life-saving operation for their young son Nemanja (Marko Djurovic) in
Their pride is the first casualty when Marija places an ad in the paper for financial help for the operation. It seems to be what people do in their situation but Mladen expects no response, so he’s surprised when he gets a phone call to meet an unknown prospective benefactor in a café. The man (Miki Manojlovic) looks like an underworld figure, but Mladen is a good-hearted chap who is utterly shocked when the man says that in return for 30,000 Euros, he needs someone killed.
Poverty cannot afford ethics. If the need is great enough, anyone can be tempted to steal, even to kill. The dilemma for Mladen is greater for the fact that Marija’s sole focus is Nemanja, to the point where she will not listen when Mladen wants to share his burden. He’s universally seen as a good man, a good father, and he takes his duty seriously. Nemanja’s illness puts enormous pressure on him to do something. Meanwhile, each of the parents’ attempts to find the money elsewhere meet with the overwhelming conclusion that the lives of some are worth more than others, and that good people are inevitably poor.
Mladen’s decision signals a decent into a hell of deception, betrayal, unbearable guilt and regret. Plot twists take what could be predictable into further agony and irony as this good man is systematically demoralised - and more by help coming from an unexpected quarter. The distance between Mladen and who he once was grows with the increasing failure of all communication between him and Marija. It’s echoed throughout the film in a particular street intersection where a homeless child offers to wash windscreens, which serves as a milestone for Mladen’s disintegration each time he stops there. Here, also, a random act of cruelty exemplifies a society where some elements have not risen above savagery.
The look of the film is stark, the colours washed out, the only warmth in Mladen and Marija’s early relationship and apartment and in the drawings with which young Nemanja covers the walls.
© Avril Carruthers 15th June 2008
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