Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Professional

Profesionalac; Grotesque, Serbia, 2003; D: Dušan Kovačević, S: Branislav Lečić, Bora Todorović, Nataša Ninković, Dragan Jovanović

Teodor Teo Kraj is a middle aged factory owner where currently all the employees are on strike. Suddenly, a stranger enters his office, introducing himself as Luka Laban, a former secret agent, and gives him a book where all parts of his were documented. Laban explains the stunned Teo that he spied on him for 10 years, following the orders of the Slobodan Milošević regime. Back then, in the 90s, Teo protested against the regime so the disguised Laban constantly secretly followed him, beating him up in more occasions and once even saving his life. On top of all, Laban's daughter fell in love with Teo and went to Canada. Teo is at first furious, but later on makes up with Laban.

After the screenplays for numerous brilliant Balkan satires like "Who's That Singing Over There?" and "The Balkan Spy", that went on to become local classics, and even subsequently symbolically predicted the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia, the inspired writer Dušan Kovačević ran out of shape in the movie he directed himself, "The Professional", which he adapted based on his own play. All in all, "The Professional" is more than solid but, obviously, is missing that special energy that adorns truly qualitative films. Many scenes are, at first sight, amusingly written (police officers disguised as Santa Clauses; people in Serbia throwing stones in the sky after the bombing of NATO planes in '99; Laban gets so carried away by acting Teo's follower that he even protests against Milosevic himself...) but in practice turn out grim-pale due to the pathetic dramaturgy and lack of humor, which is why it's a pity that Laban wasn't played by the deceased legendary comedian Danilo 'Bata' Stojković, who portrayed him in the plays.


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