May 31, 2019

Lui Lack, tú no tienes la culpa (Stefan M. Mladenović, 2019)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Two years after a promising debut, Quiero decirte (lit. I Want to Tell You), which tells a coming-out story in a 'confession meets allegorical fantasy' fashion, a young and ambitious actor turned filmmaker from Niš, Stefan M. Mladenović, delivers another remarkable short, this time focusing on a sensitive topic of child sexual abuse. Inspired by Tatiana Maslany's multi-performance in Canadian TV series Orphan Black, as he states in an interview for Ananas Magazin, he portrays seven characters, in addition to writing, directing and producing.

Lui Lack is a psychotherapist burdened by a traumatic childhood experience which he has been suppressing for years, hiding from judgmental eyes. Together with his six clients, one of them being a sexually confused protagonist from Quiero decirte, Alejandro, he will find a way to 'solve a rebus', as the official synopsis notes, and move on with his life. Although the second part of the title - which translates as 'it is not your fault' - reveals the solution, it is still fascinating to see the up-and-coming auteur shifting between the roles effortlessly and with great gusto. Approaching the disquieting theme from seven different angles, with hints of tastefully integrated humor, he addresses the most unpleasant act as the first game which his 'alter egos' lost, yet he never diminishes its unquestionable monstrosity.

The (impressive!) use of Spanish for which he consulted a lector from Barcelona and Argentinean colleagues may appear like a gimmick to some viewers, but if it makes him feel 'natural, tranquil, rebellious, powerful, happy, special and excited', in his own words, then why not? Besides, it emphasizes the strangeness or rather, uncanniness that a young mind gets drown in, when having its innocence disintegrated. Speaking of strangeness, there's a highly memorable, delightfully weird and somewhat eerie 'swine dance' scene which breaks the film's 'talking heads' structure, imbues it with surrealistic quality and pushes MORA's dark, quietly simmering score forefront, to goosebump-inducing effect. The haunting vocal of the band's singer Zorana Ignjatović gives a sense of much needed cathartic release, especially during the closing credits. Also commendable is DoP Miroslav Mitić who provides crisp, carefully composed shots despite obvious budgetary restraints.

The review is based on the pre-premiere screening at PozitivNI street festival in Niš, May 30, 2019.

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