Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Have to Sleep, My Angel

Moram spavat', anđele; Drama, Croatia, 2007; D: Dejan Ačimović, S: Karlo Barbarić, Linda Begonja, Nataša Dorčić, Vera Zima, Olga Pakalović

Goran remembers his childhood: in the early 70s, he was only 9 years old, adoring football and awaiting a prestigious basketball game between Yugoslavia and the US. But then his parents, Ante and Gordana, decided to divorce, leaving him in turmoil and sadness. His dad Ante, a doctor, quickly found a new love interest, while his mother remained alone in an apartment. After his grandfather died, his mother became sick. Despite numerous operations, she had to go to a special hospital in Ljubljana, where she died. Devastated, Goran, dad and grandmother returned home in their car, stopping in Zagreb, where a girl waved at Goran.

"I Have to Sleep, My Angel" isn't anything extraordinary, yet it's a very solid coming-of-age film that avoids the pathetic touch often found in such melodrama films, especially in the 'black hole' of Croatian cinema, the 90s, that was filled with awful films. Unlike those, this one is a rather pleasant surprise since it's easily watchable, neatly reconstructing the era of the 70s for which it has nostalgic sympathies, while the actors are all right. Dejan Ačimović directs his second film with an easy hand, but doesn't manage to make it intriguing, powerful or brilliant. It's in the end just a solid film, hardly anything more. It has it's fair share of moments, a few wise monologues ("You're listening to me, but you can't hear me" or "Time has no price, but it's the most valuable thing of all"), yet it's assembled out of small vignettes that don't connect, and out of small episodes from life that weren't developed enough. If anything, actress Olga Pakalović made a smashing performance in her small, underused little role as the crazy aunt, a physic teacher who is never serious and even shows her middle finger (!) to strangers, and quite frankly she is so interesting it seems as if she should have been the main protagonist of the film, and not the inert 9-year old Goran.


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