Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside

Blagajnica hoće ići na more; Tragicomedy, Croatia, 2000; D: Dalibor Matanić, S: Dora Polić, Ivan Brkić, Nina Violić, Milan Štrljić, Vera Zima

"I have some good news, and some bad news. The good news is that in honor of our Blaženka's withdrawal to retirement I'm going to feast everyone with a piglet. The bad news is that she died yesterday so we will just scrap the whole thing". Three cashiers; Štefica, Željka i Barica constantly have to hear bizarre-cynical escapades of their strict boss. They all work in a small store and keep it clean. An old lady tries to steal some items but Barica stops her and gets praise from the police. Barica uses that opportunity and persuades her boss to grant her vacation to the sea that would help her sick daughter. But just then Jadranka, a girl from Herzegovina, shows up and manipulates the boss to not let Barica go, but instead take her to the sea. That's why Barica locks them up in the freezer and leaves with her daughter to the sea anyway. When she returns she is saved because everyone thinks it was an act of thieves, while she reprises her vacation with a detective.

This gentle comedy with drama elements is truly a pleasant little surprise and rightfully became the most watched Croatian film in the theaters of it's homeland in 2000: many were afraid of some dark grotesque that gets served every now and then from some pretentious Croatian director, but "Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside" is a sweet little comedy without violence or excessive scenes. The story is filled with small, low-key jokes that seize the viewers sympathies, like in the scene where the strict boss is forcing the three cashiers to do physical exercise so that they can type better on the machine or when he finally spots the burglar alarm - after it's on for over a minute! - and in a deranged way exits from the basement with a barking dog. The debut director Dalibor Matanic has sense for hilarious gags and a neat visual style but it's a small pity that the jokes wear off after 30 minutes which is why the finale seems really overstretched. Here and there a few tricks lift up the film, like the shrill musical theme for the cashier Željka, whereas Nina Violic is truly fun in the role of the femme fatale from Herzegovina.


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