Monday, May 9, 2011

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On; science-fiction drama, Croatia, 2010; D: Nevio Marasović, S: Sven Medvešek, Nataša Dorčić, Ivana Roščić, Filip Juričić, Amak Bukvić

Zagreb in the future. TV stations are celebrating the 7th anniversary since Croatia entered the EU. Filip is the creator of a "Big Brother" type TV show, "Housed", while his private life is turbulent since his ex-wife Helena works as a host in a rival TV show, "Argument", which is why they don't have much time to spend with their son Patrik. However, one day NATO and the EU get involved in a war with a "Coalition" from the Middle East, and thus drag Croatia into it. In order to preserve their blissful ignorance, Filip transports "Housed" inmates into an identical house, but underground where they cannot hear air raid sirens. When the US uses nuclear weapons in an attack, the Coalition retaliates by sending missiles to EU countries. One of them destroys Zagreb. At that point, Filip's video is played and the "Housed" inmates find out that they are the last survivors there.

Considering it is only the 4th or 5th feature length science-fiction film in the entire history of Croatian cinema (they can even be listed here: "Guests from the Galaxy", "Atomic War Bride", "The Rat Savior" and maybe "Celestial Body"), the low budget drama "The Show Must Go On" is quite a rare experience, but a surprisingly good one, where the "Big Brother" show in the plot is just a minor allegory for the main double theme, the one where such an isolated TV show actually becomes the last oasis of bliss and escapism for people outside whose normal lives were wrecked by a deadly war - and for our society where we don't know what is going on at the top since only a handful of politicians hold our destiny in their hands. Not only is this feature length debut film by Nevio Marasovic a bold enterprise, but it holds an incredible, subversive and bold anti-globalist message: it presents large groupations of countries as a "chain letters" phenomenon - once one country gets involved in a mess, it drags all others with it.

In presenting this future, years after Croatia joined the EU, Marasovic crafted quite a realistic world using inventive ideas in a lack of a bigger budget (for instance, in one scene the main protagonist Filip has a telephone conversation on a touchscreen that looks like a giant iPhone - since the movie was written in 2007, it almost predicted the latter), but did not quite evade the EU-phobia cliches. Just like in "The Day After", the author shows a sense for a slow intensification of boiling atmosphere based just on how little information is given, mostly through an occasional dialogue by some character (Filip says: "I know it is not the right time to celebrate, considering what is going on in the world..."). It also has solid special effects, featuring even the Cibona tower in flames during the war. Complaints could be raised towards somewhat standard dialogues and dramaturgy, especially among the "Housed" inmates where almost no character is three-dimensional of sufficiently developed. However, the movie is bitter and powerful, especially when it offers a sly commentary on politics, and through it human nature in general.


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