Love And Other Crimes

Love And Other Crimes

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The "love" of the title holds the key to the charm of this 'day in the life' drama set in bleak Belgrade. In a wintry tower block area, Anica (Anica Dobra) is planning to break free from her old life as the lover of local mob boss Milutin (Fedja Stojanovich) and embrace the new - with the help of the contents of his safe. We see her go from early morning to night on the day of departure.

But leaving her life behind isn't as tough as leaving behind the people in it. There's Milutin's virtually mute daughter Ivana (Hanna Schwamborn), who has a disturbing desire to stand on the top-storey ledge of their tower block gazing out at the city; and Milutin's young henchman Stanislav (Vuk Kostic), who declares his undying love for her at just the wrong moment.

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Although this is chiefly Anica's story, it expands to encompass all those around her, from Milutin's problems with the local gang scene to Stanislav's inability to leave his mother. Just as the plot unfolds to reveal a Russian doll-like system of layers, so the dramatic elements open out to include clever moments of comedy. Stanislav paying for the local restaurant to let his mother sing, unbeknownst to her; a sunbed continually on the blink; and the local video store owner whose wife has left him, all provide moments of levity, while Stanislav's coy romance with Anica stands out in stark relief against his grittier gangland activities.

This is Stefan Arsenijevic's debut - and he has taken on a big task. Interweaving shifting stories and changing tone is tricky, but he succeeds for the most part, by keeping the more whimsical moments tramelled in by a brassy soundtrack and careful editing, and use of colour that accentuates the bleak as well as the blossom. Wherever there is romance, there is also irony and, as one of the character's says, "anything's possible". The cast, too, are perfect. Dobra finds depth in Anica's steely determination, while Kostic and Stojanovich both manage to expose the vulnerability which lies at the heart of their characters' lives while keeping the less salubrious aspects of their personalities utterly believable.

Although this is a bit of a meander in places, it is always a pleasant one and shows plenty of directorial promise.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2008
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"What happens if you fall in love on the very day you intend to leave forever?"

Director: Stefan Arsenijevic

Writer: Stefan Arsenijevic, Srdjan Koljevic, Bojan Vuletic, Bojan Vuletic

Starring: Anica Dobra, Vuk Kostic, Milena Dravic, Fedja Stojanovic, Hanna Schwamborn, Ljubomir Bandovic, Ana Markovic, Dusica Zegarac, Semka Sokolovic-Bertok, Josif Tatic, Anita Mancic

Year: 2008

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Serbia, Germany

Festivals:

EIFF 2008

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