A beautiful drama with a great horror theme.
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First and foremost let’s take a moment to acquaint ourselves with some geography. I was pretty excited to get my hands on a film from the Republic of Macedonia, but what do we really know about it? Apparently it used to be a part of Yugoslavia until the nineties when the people from the Balkan region all decided they wanted their own independence. I don’t think Yugoslavia actually exists anymore, considering all the states seemed to have seceded. Anyway, that little history lesson doesn’t mean much but hell it’s only proper that we have a tiny clue as to what culture we’re being exposed to. But enough about that, I am no history teacher after all. (I claim to be a reviewer, but some might say even that is debatable!)
Dr. Lazar Perkov (Borce Nacev) loves his family very much, even if his bitch of a wife pisses him off. And so during one of their arguments he decides to drive off in a huff. (A different kind of road rage, perhaps?) He gets into a car accident and dies for a few minutes before he comes back. Not that this is all miraculous because he spends a year recovering from his injuries. We find out that his life really is pretty sad – a wife who wants nothing to do with him, an overbearing mother who makes his cold wife seem warm and fuzzy and some bizarre people he meets as he tries to adjust to living a normal life again. Is he seeing ghosts everywhere or are his injuries from the accident more severe than everyone thinks? And what the hell is up with the creepy old lady who breaks into his house to clean it? (Bonus question: Can I finagle my way into convincing you that this can truly be considered a horror movie?)
While we are dealing with the question of ghosts or madness, one might say this is definitely part of the horror genre. However the structure of the story is more of a drama. There are some mildly tense moments and pretty neat imagery but it isn’t really until right at the end that we see some horror poking out. Is that bad? Not necessarily. It is a solid story that keeps you guessing much longer than usual. Considering the run time of two hours seems excessive at first glance, it really speaks for the compelling characters that I never once checked to see how much longer I had left. (I tend to do that with most movies – even the ones I enjoy.) It isn’t tense so much as it is intriguing, and the cinematography matches each scene beautifully. We get glimpses of a different world (a tiny village, a fairly modern city and oh sweet Lord the gorgeous ocean view!) that keeps us engaged enough to not get bored with the plot.
More than a hokey drama this is a very interesting story about debts owed. We are forever connected to our family, whether we like it or not. It’s kind of scary really, that we would be held responsible for something some other tool in our gene pool did. With outstanding performances by the cast, especially Nacev as the slowly deteriorating Lazar and Vesna Stanojevska as the beguiling Menka, one can’t help but lean in and await resolution with some eagerness. Director/writer Milcho Manchevski tells his story not only through the characters but also through scenery. He is like Scheherazade with her thousand and one stories that kept the King going. By the end of my two hour journey into Macedonia, I was both satisfied and yet curious to see more. It’s a shame really that I can’t give it a higher rating, but if I take my feelings out of the equation I have to admit that this won’t satisfy a lot of fans that are looking for something solidly horror. The elements are there and they are blended in seamlessly but the fact remains that this is more of a drama than anything else.Have You Read...?