Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Three Men of Melita Žganjer

Tri muškarca Melite Žganjer; comedy, Croatia, 1998; D: Snježana Tribuson, S: Mirjana Rogina, Sanja Vejnović, Suzana Nikolić, Goran Navojec, Filip Šovagović, Ivo Gregurević, Ljubomir Kerekeš, Ena Begović, Rene Bitorajac

Even though she adores the Mexican soap opera "Slave of Love", the overweight Melita does not have luck with love in her own life. She works in a pastry shop and likes Janko, a cook who delivers cakes to the place, but he is ashamed to say a single word because he stutters. Melita's two friends, Eva and Višnja, try to find her a boyfriend, but to no avail. A man, Jura, seduces Melita and sleeps over at her place, but only because his wife divorced him and he had no place to stay. Finally, Juan, the actor from "Slave of Love", arrives to Zagreb to shoot a film, and Melita meets him while playing an extra. However, he disappoints her as well when he pays more attention to his lost sunglasses, so Melita cries and runs towards Janko for comfort. This helps her to finally start a relationship with Janko.

One of the most famous films directed by female filmmaker Snjezana Tribuson, this Croatian forerunner to "Bridget Jones' Diary" is a sympathetic little comedy that refuses to be primitive or rely on swearing, as it was often the case with many other Croatian comedies of that time, and instead gives a straightforward story about the problems of a modern, overweight woman trying to find love. The opening sequence starts off with a brilliant gag: Melita is meticulously placing paper clips in different colors to create a collage of flowers and meadows on a sheet, yet as soon as her friend opens the door to calls her for lunch, the draft blows out all the clips away from paper in a second. "The Three Men of Melita Žganjer" is divided, congruently, into three chapters, and the first chapter of the story works the best, entertaining with a wide range of jokes and puns (for instance, Melita tries to lose some pounds through exercise, but as she tries to do pull-ups, the pole above collapses from her weight), yet the second and third chapter feature a lot less highlights, offering only routine "entertainment-light". Many scenes unravel, yet they do not feature a worthy pay-off, and even the heroine's encounter with her idol from a soap opera does not amount to much (despite a great performance by Filip Sovagovic who does a fantastic Spanish accent). One of the funniest moments can only be found near the finale, when Melita and the shy Janko finally start to talk because she cried, and Janko's friend cautiously backs away with the two women, as to not interfere with this sudden "breakthrough". The story runs out of ideas after 40 minutes, yet it is still a decent and neat fun, with excellent actors, Ivo Gregurevic delivering another highlight as Jura.


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