TIFF 2012: ‘Krivina’ lacks a strong sense of consequence

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Krivina

Directed by Igor Drljaca

Written by Igor Drljaca

Canada/ Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2012

Krivina isn’t A Serbian Film. It’s Bosnian. There’s a difference.

One is sordid and luridly over-the-top for the purpose of ‘commenting’ about the depravity and moral decline of post-Milošević Serbia. The other is a fractured and fragmented personal journey that aims to shed light on the dilapidating state of post-war Bosnia.

Although wildly different in approach, both films suffer from a servile adherence to its technique, to make the viewer feel exactly what they’re trying to convey. As a result, Krivina, like A Serbian Film, is a picture that focuses too much on what it’s saying and not enough on how well it says it.

The story follows Miro (Goran Slavkovic), an expatriate from the former Yugoslavia now living in Canada. Uprooted from family and friends, and with no tangible connections to speak of, he becomes the proverbial vagabond in a foreign land, eventually settling in Toronto. Haunted by memories of his homeland, Miro decides to go back to look for a comrade he hasn’t seen in 20 years; an accused war criminal named Dado.

As a metaphor for how there’s no place like home, no matter how flawed and broken it may be, Miro’s search for Dado is an intriguing story, but the fatal error in Krivina is how it overplays its effectiveness to the point of dulling it.

The movie’s non-linear and scattered narrative is meant to make us question what’s reality and what isn’t (to mimic someone overcome and obsessed by his memories), but the subtly tends to border on the opaque. While trying to juggle his supporting subplots (such as Miro’s ex-girlfriend and a The Sweet Hereafter-type bus crash), Mr. Drljaca dabbles in surrealism for contemplative effect, which lessens the overall impact rather than strengthening it.

The subplots aren’t fully fleshed out and explored in the first place, but coupled with the idea that they might just be a figment of someone’s imagination, the stories lack a strong sense of consequence and don’t necessarily reverberate with the audience as it was intended to. There might be an interesting story written in between the lines, but with such little incentive to explore them, it’s likely that you won’t.

Also, the drone and rumble of the film’s musical score is supposed to engender a feeling of lingering discontent and the foreboding of an apprehensive future. Instead, it becomes overbearing and tiresome by its repeated usage.

As a technician, Mr. Drljaca has a strong sense of visual panache and knowledge of storytelling techniques, but as a raconteur, he’s less auspicious. His curriculum vitae of short films have earned him considerable praise, and one can’t help but feel that it would’ve been more judicious if his first feature, Krivina, followed that same tradition.

– Justin Li

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6-16

For more information and tickets, please visit the official website

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