Saturday, September 3, 2016
Yugoslavia during the late 80s. The Croatian football team, Dinamo, is scheduled to play against the Serbian football team Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade - and only Krpa, Buba, Kizo and a dozen other Croatian fans from the fanclub Bad Blue Boys are brave enough to board a train to that city from Zagreb to cheer for them. Once in Belgrade, they encounter rival Serb fans Delije. After the football game, Delije attack their bus and the Bad Blue Boys flee and disperse in the streets, hide in a strip club and then go on to walk by foot to the main station to get a train back to Zagreb. They manage and return back home.
Dubbed an unofficial 'prequel' to "Metastaze", Igor Šeregi's feature length debut film "ZG80" is a strong and fresh modern take on Xenophon's "Anabasis", depicting true events when a handfull of brave (and crazy) Croatian football fans went to Belgrade to cheer at a game, despite being heavily outnumbered by Serb fans Delije. The first 30 minutes are excellent, and in them Šeregi rises to the occasion: it is highly realistic in depicting the era of the 80s, when the Yugoslav internationalism was already crumbling into Serb and Croatian nationalism, and how both fans clubs were provoking each other to the point of ad nauseam. There is a lot of swearing and raw behavior, yet that is probably necessary to realistically depict these subgroups, whereas it is alleviated somewhat by humor that arises from several highly absurd moments (for instance, Krpa pulls the breaks to stop the train for his friends to board, and when two conductors show up and demand the perpetrator, the guys joke a "fat fly pulled the breaks"; one Croatian fan dresses up in a Serb dress to sell useless stuff for profit; the "Retard-Delije" comment...), with an especially effective episode in a club featuring an efficient little supporting role by Monika Kis. Unfortunately, after the first 30 minutes, "ZG80" runs out of inspiration and steam, since the characters do not know what to do with themselves for the next hour in the streets of Belgrade, and neither does the director and screenwriter - too much of that second half falls into repetitive tone, and features too many banal moments of farting or shouting. Still, even there the movie has its moments, kudos to its main actor Rene Bitorajac who delivered another excellent performance, whereas - unlike so many modern sterile films - "ZG80" feels genuinely extremely lively and energetic, which all adds up to its positive impression.