Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Love, art, blood...flesh and soul of victim" A Serbian Film

For those of you who were smart enough or enjoying your blissful existence, there is a film out there called A Serbian Film. Before you continue with this review, a fairly good litmus test is to view the video below or read this Wiki article, whether or not you actually wanna hear about this film and it's country's context.
WARNING: It is the Red-band quite gruesome and sexually explicit.

Nice of you to join us, now proceeding with the review.

I have personally never partaken into Serbian culture, Serbian politics, let alone Serbian film before and watching this film I possibly may never again, but to be completely honest, A Serbian Film is actually an incredible modern masterpiece which blends the contemporary use of film or the medium is the message (i.e. McLuhan's classic statement ) and having an auteur's view of the history of a country's politics.
Before watching A Serbian Film, I did a fair amount of research not on the film itself and the incredible amount of scenes to do with torture, rape, child pornography, gore, nudity, fellatio and among other things 'newborn porn', but the actual in-depth analysis and critique on the government is spelt out quite well.
The plot itself details Milos (Sergej Trifunović), an ex-pornstar who is hoping to break out of the business to provide for himself and his family for legitimate means. He is met by an extravagant director (Srdan Todorovic) who then proceeds to pay him vast amounts to provide for his family for him to be in an art film, however, what it turns into is a nightmarish vision which Milos cannot escape.
The film's premise whilst sounding fairly thin does provide a bit of depth into the world of the Serbian government and the entire world portrayed in A Serbian Film. For a brief run down, the government in the last several decades hasn't been exactly nice to it's people and even less so to it's entertainment industry, both for importing and exporting films (seriously name another Serbian film). So with the symbolism coming from a film critic and a writer who has been heavily censored, this film seems to be their payback and revealing the truth (in a disturbing, disgusting symbolic way). 
Milos' character as an ex-pornstar could be considered that of someone who wishes to get out of the 'fucking business', rather than pornography or even that of the government, to provide for his family and despite his constant struggle and what the mad-cap director makes him do, he finds the cycle never-ending. The use of drugs and alcohol, seem to rupture both the family unit and the artistic unit and has a clear statement on domestic duties as well as the drug and mob culture the country has. The film's more graphic sequences are nothing more than overtly symbolic gestures of the government or any major patriarchal figure fucking someone, literally.
One particular scene in which the director shows Milos a woman giving birth and a man, in a white lab coat and shady glasses, delivering the baby who then proceeds to...let's say, harm the infant, one could see the symbolic gesture of the medical and historical gesture of the suffering of women and children who can do nothing in their state. The pregnant woman does nothing but smile despite this horrendous act happening and leaving me (and Milos) in a stunned, depressive and nauseous state. Effective, yes?
However, is it art?
Is it saying something?
Is it worthwhile as a film?
The acting in the film is dead-on for all the actors and that is where the most disturbance comes from is the realism portrayed in even the most gasping sequences.
The film's score is so industrial it'd make Trent Reznor blush and the actual camera work both on-screen and seen on video camera's provides the abrasive legwork for the writer's vision to come to life in terrifying sepia flooded flashbacks and navy-washed factory sequences. Taking a bit out of the simple symbolic gestures (Alice in Wonderland makes many an appearance as innocence being corrupted) and Saw, Handbook of making things a bit sick and twisted, A Serbian Film does use a few overused elements for an old story but with a new edge.
I think that pushing the envelope is often a good thing but whether or not A Serbian Film goes too far is up to the audience. Of course, seeing this from an AND and fairly white perspective and more specifically not being Serbian, this kind of film is something you really have to research to understand over the extremely graphic and overplayed sequences involving gore and incredibly rough sex but are actually balanced with the family sequences (shot in a beautiful colour palette). The contrast between the dark and gruesome sequences provide a breathe of fresh of the audience but are completely done away with in the final act which is nothing but absolute dread which eventually leads to a final climax that is so heartbreakingly depressing and terrifying it begs to be believed (or you've already read it in the Wikipedia article and have decided to throw up)
The film is gritty, the performances are spectacular from both the male leads but as a political statement it's incredibly heavy-handed and will definitely be up there for one of the most controversial and polarising films of our time. There is no way this film will get a release here in Australia, due to Australia's policy of sucking dick on camera, which there is alot of in A Serbian Film....but then again they let an unedited version Brown Bunny have a release.

Have a great week, guys.

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