Thursday, 29 May 2008

Balkan Spy


Balkanski špijun; Drama/ Comedy, Serbia, 1984; D: Dušan Kovačević, Božidar 'Bota' Nikolić, S: Danilo 'Bata' Stojković, Bora Todorović, Mira Banjac, Zvonko Lepetić, Branka Petrić, Sonja Savić

Belgrade. Ilija Čvorović, a 60-year old man with a heart disease who innocently spent 2 years in jail in his youth, gets summoned from authorities for a routine conversation involving informations about his tenant Petar, a tailor who worked in Paris, in a Capitalistic state. The police inspector doesn't discover anything unusual and forgets the case as fast as it has been brought up, but Ilija starts becoming paranoid and decides to spy on the innocent Petar. From his vague gestures, he "concludes" that Petar is a terrorist who wants to destroy the country, so he and his brother Đuro capture him and his friends, all respectable professors, torturing them. The completely confused Petar manages to escape from the house because Ilija gets a heart attack.

"Balkan Spy" is the last of the 'great three' films involving screenwriter Dušan Kovačević and actor Danilo 'Bata' Stojković, who here probably gave the performance of his career. Satirical humor, satirical characters, satirical fake danger and satirical drama are all attributes of this unusual tragicomedy that should definitely be compared with the brilliant satire "Being There" since it displays a similar, endemic theme, the one about human superficiality and the power of suggestion that allures them to "perceive" something that isn't there. The same way the characters in that film think the retarded Chancey is a genius, the same way Ilija and his family here think that their innocent neighbor Petar is a terrorist, interpreting everything that can be interpreted in two ways only in their way, thus finding in that the meaning of life.

That resulted in burlesque situations of their hilarious paranoia (Petar and his friends academicians are on the shore of a river, pointing at something with their finger, while Ilija is observing them from the distance and immediately "deciphers" and draws with arrows the plan of their attack on the city; Đuro captures the respectable and confused academics and ties them up in his basement, beating them up demanding from them to "admit their crimes"; the room illuminated in red) that are not for everyones taste due to pretentiousness and bitterness, but since writer Kovačević is simply one satirical genius, then even his cult "Spy" is interesting, once again becoming sadly visionary and too close for comfort in the future, especially due to parallels in history where numerous countries looked for 'invisible enemies' (the Cold War, witch-hunt...and evidently - an eerie foreshadowing of the future maniac paranoia of the Milosevic regime in the 90s). The final scene, one of those great examples of "interrupted endings", in which Ilija is walking on his four together with his dog, unforgettably implies how a human without reason is reduced to an animal.

Grade:+++

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