Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Serbian Film

I'm not sure that I know what the people who made this film were trying to prove. Apparently it's an allegory for the way people are treated in Serbia, as in the government forces people to do awful things. Sadly, I'm ignorant to the current state of affairs there, so I have to assume things must be pretty damn bad in order for there to be the things there are in this movie.

From the very start, this movie tries very hard to make the viewer uncomfortable. It begins with a cheesy porno flick, which as it turns out is being watched by the 6 year old son of the man starring in it. While it's presented as an opportunity to show that the dad, protagonist Milos, and his wife are not hung-up on porno and sex like the average 'merican schlub is, being a typical American prude I found it to be gross. If you knew my dad and then pictured him in a porno you wouldn't much like it either, to be fair. As it turns out, most everything that happens in this movie is related to sex, and while it's quasi-pornographic it's even more violent and completely intent on being as shocking as possible.

Milos needs money, and takes a lead from a former co-star to join a producer/director looking for his legendary stamina and weighty gristle to be put to their use in an artistic porno being made for a private client. The compensation being offered is exceedingly generous. While he's dismayed to learn that there is no script for him to read and that no one will tell him what the film is actually about, he's tempted by the lure of the money and his wife is on board once she hears the figure too. Naturally, as people who have seen any movie ever will tell you, it's going to turn out that acting in this movie was a super bad idea.

I get that Milos' family could use some cash, because money can be used for goods and services and all that. On the other hand, their house is pretty nice. I suppose the economy is weak there, but I also wonder if Milos might be able to get a job doing something other than sticking his dick into various things and people if he was no longer that into being a porn star. But in any case, he is given an earbud to stick in his ear to take direction and is whisked away to the movie set. When he starts to balk at where the movie is going in terms of theme and method acting and the like, he tries to quit and finds that breaking his contract isn't going to be particularly easy.

This is far from the worst movie I've watched lately. There are appreciable production values, and the acting is not bad. It's not great, either. The level of soullessness of the characters in this film is what ends up being impressive. If humans evolved to end up doing the things they do to one another in A Serbian Film, we might have been better off being shit-chucking apes. Yes, this is the movie famous for showing a newborn baby being raped. I'm sure there was a point to that other than classic "what's the worst thing I can think of", at least if you were to ask the filmmakers. Maybe that it's the government trying to ruin a country that's still in its infancy? Huh. But the really disgusting thing is that, arguably of course, that scene isn't even the worst one in the movie. This is a movie so intent on bringing the viewer down into the morass of a profane and meaningless existence that even at the end, when one assumes there isn't any further indignity that could be visited on the protagonist's family, they find a way to shoehorn in just one more.

Ultimately, this is a bizarre, depressing and unsettling flick. It's hyped for good reason. I wouldn't put it on a list of Great Films or anything, but it certainly deserves a place on the list of "dare you to watch it" movies.


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