Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blacks


Crnci; War drama, Croatia, 2009; D: Goran Dević, Zvonimir Jurić, S: Ivo Gregurević, Krešimir Mikić, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat, Nikša Butijer, Emir Hadžihafizbegović

A city in Slavonia during the Croatian War of Independence. Ivo leads a Croatian paramilitary unit, known as the "Blacks". It consists out of Šaran, Franjo, Darko and a new one, Barišić. They cross a river and go deep behind enemy lines to retrieve the bodies of their three friends. Ivo also plans to blow up a dam to inflict damage to the enemy. Once there, it turns out their miner, Barišić, only lied that he knows how to detonate explosions because he wanted them to bail him from prison. Ivo gets angry and shoots him, but Franjo shoots Ivo and Šaran, and then himself...A few days earlier. In the "Blacks" base, Ivo doesn't want to align to the newly signed ceasefire. He hires a miner, Barišić, for a secret mission, but he is shocked to find out about their garage where they shot people. Franjo was in charge of the killings, but couldn't do it anymore.

A psychological war film without any scene showing the war or the enemy, stripped of any kind of ideology, loosely based on the "Sellotape case", "Blacks" are a competently directed achievement by two directors-screenwriters, Goran Devic and Zvonimir Juric. From the first scene showing a black cat with her kittens up to the finale with the (paramilitary) soldier dragging his briefcase through the hall, "Blacks" builds a strong 'kammerspiel' atmosphere, even though not much is going on, with a film language in full light. The structure, which first shows the end only to retrospectively go to a flashback in the base a few days before, is inventive, whereas the authors bravely displayed courage in portraying a war crime on their side. Unfortunately, due to its grey mood, the film will not reach everyone. Likewise, it is too short and underdeveloped; the characters are all well rounded up, yet needed further expansion, as it was the case with the soldier who takes drugs to suppress his conscience for killing people in the garage. Devic managed to use a few tricks to give them an emotional dimension, like having the rough Šaran be kind to the cat, yet the film needed (just a little bit) more of that.

Grade:++

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