Saturday, August 2, 2014

Aloa - Festivity of the Whores

Haloa - praznik kurvi; erotic drama, Croatia, 1988; D: Lordan Zafranović, S: Neda Arnerić, Ranko Zidarić, Stevo Žigon, Dušica Žegarac

Manfred is a middle aged German who takes a summer vacation on the island of Hvar, together with his young Croatian wife, Majra. However, she fancies a younger lad, whose mother, Marija, rented a room to the couple at her house. Sparks soon fly and the lad and Majra have an affair. Manfred takes him with them on a costume festival, not knowing about the affair. However, he soon finds out which leads to friction. At the end, it turns out Majra is Marija's long lost daughter, who took revenge on her by seducing her brother, the lad, because of her poverty ridden childhood. As Manfred and Majra leave the place, a black dog attacks them in the car and they crash behind a hill.

Lordan Zafranovic's penultimate feature length film, not including a couple of documentaries made later on, "Aloa - Festivity of the Whores" is a bizarre patchwork that has an attractive love triangle as a good starting point, yet loses it among too much empty walk and strange moments. The title references the Ancient Greek festival Aloa, and tries to juggle with Greek tragedy and mythology a couple of instances, but none of them seem to have a point or a reason in the story, which is further exacerbated by an insane (incest) surprise ending, and then by another, even more bizarre surprise ending after that, which both got dangerously close to trash. Even the erotic aspect is thin and unsatisfying, consisting only of two meagre sex scenes that last less than a minute. A positive point of interest is only the elegant camera work and aesthetic locations on the island of Hvar, that are neat to look at. Likewise, Zafranovic, a well informed cineast, crafts the film to look very modern, and thus the clothes and the settings seem almost as if they came from Beverly Hills, even though the prominently featured German song "Mayra", that was intended to be cool and hip, seems more "weird" than anything else.


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