Sunday, 1 November 2009

Shadows

Senki; Mystery drama, Macedonia/ Germany/ Italy/ Bulgaria, 2007; D: Milčo Mančevski, S: Borče Nacev, Vesna Stanojevska, Salaetin Bilal, Sabina Ajrula-Tozija, Ratka Radmanović

Young doctor Lazar has a car accident and falls into coma. A year later, after recovering, his wife Gordana and little son stay behind at Ohrid lake for summer, while he goes to Skopje. Strange things start to happen: he finds an old woman in his apartment, who tells him in Aegian that he "should returns what doesn't belong to him". An old man with a baby falls down the elevator shaft and disappears. He meets Menka, a short haired woman, and falls in love with her, but she disappears too. It turns out that the old man and old lady are ghosts who want their bones to be buried. Lazar finds out his mother took their bones, so he buries them. But it turns out Menka was also a ghost.

Sometimes, a Luis Bunuel is born is Spain and is given a opportunity to fulfil his potentials in arts. But sometimes, a Louis Bunuel is born in Macedonia, and it's more difficult for him to get the opportunity to achieve what he wants in cinema. With "Shadows", director Milčo Mančevski shows his surreal side, though with a more emotional and dramatic engagement, creating an unusual, sometimes rewarding, sometimes ludicrous dramatic version of "The Sixth Sense". The film is definitely overlong and not planned enough, with the director inserting many shrill moments - in one humorous scene, for instance, a woman from a flat throws some foul food through her window on the street, while a passing lady accidentally step onto it with her shoe - and with the mystery-fantasy junction not quite turning into a harmonious whole with the story.

The best ingredients are the superb performances by the charismatic actor Borče Nacev and his female partner, Vesna Stanojevska, as the shrill Menka, since the two of them have fantastic chemistry: in one scene, for instance, Lazar enters her office and says: "Excuse me...", upon which she cynically adds: "You're excused". When he secretly follows her through the town, he loses her sight for a while, aimlessly looking for her - until she shows up right behind his back, giving him a stern look. The small erotic sequence where Lazar has intercourse with his wife Gordana, and suddenly imagines (?) that Menka shows up from the dark, takes her clothes off and kisses him, is the most bizarre moment of the film. Some things do get their payoff at the end, but most of them don't and seem just arbitrarily, which is why its a matter of an ambitious, but only good film.

Grade:++

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