Eye For Film >> Movies >> Ivan (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Marusa Majer makes a strong case for being given a lot more leading roles with her riveting central performance in Janez Burger's film as a new mum with post-partum issues torn between her obsession with the father of her baby and the child itself. Slovenia's nomination for the Foreign Language Oscar this year largely rests on her concentrated and unfussy portrayal of Mara, a woman in crisis, who nevertheless retains a strong sense of self-determination, even if that might sometimes be destructive.
Ivan is born at the start of the film, with Burger using footage from a real birth, quickly establishing a commitment to realism that adds to the tensions that develop later. Mara, who has given birth alone, is more interested in whether the phone will ring that if her newborn is crying. When she finally gets hold of Ivan's father, married businessman Rok (Matjaz Tribuson), it turns out he's been spending some time in jail for corruption.
Things go from bad to worse when, after dolling herself up for a proposed lunch date with him, she instead finds herself savagely beaten by a couple of Rok's goons. When Rok later turns up claiming it was all his wife's doing and promising to take her and Ivan to a better life, the question in her mind - and more importantly in ours - is whether or not he is telling the truth.
Burger maintains a strong sense of ambiguity throughout, as Rok's motivations are called into question and Mara's allegiances constantly shift between devotion to the father of her child and an increasing draw to the baby himself. The thriller elements are firmly rooted more arthouse character study sensibilities, allowing for the action to take turns you might not expect from a straight forward genre film.
Through it all, Burger and his cinematographer Marko Brdar make sure we never forget that Ivan is a living, breathing human at the centre of the maelstrom, by cutting away to shots showing his helpless and unfocused point of view. Although the film isn't overtly political, Burger along with writing team Ales Car, Melina Pota Koljevic and Srdjan Koljevic - working with an impressive unified voice - also remind us that everyone has a history that impinges on the present and that human actions are often shaped by circumstance, even from the earliest age.Reviewed on: 10 Mar 2019