Sascha’s father, Bora (Ljubisa Samardzic), plainly doesn’t care what his son has done in the war. In fact, he seems to support what he sees as his son’s admirable fealty to the righteous Serb cause. Bora’s poisonous Serb nationalism slowly overwhelms his logic and the ties to his family and friends, and the increasingly haunted Sascha rejects his father’s support. He also begins to doubt Suza’s motives for joining him in Vienna and spends much of his time in isolation, working at a menial job minding the shark tanks in the local aquarium and pondering his future, as well as his kinship to the predatory beasts.Any dreams the family holds for a better life are tragically doomed, and their plight is a vivid warning to those who think their middle-class lives are inviolate. Even a distant war can reach across borders and wreak havoc on the disengaged. While the film’s third-act resolutions tend toward the melodramatic, and Rebic too often underlines points he already has conveyed, the collision of cultures and ancient ethnic rivalries are impressively drawn through a series of simple betrayals and petty confrontations that reap disastrous results. Led by Ninidze’s mournful, perfectly measured performance, the work of the entire ensemble of actors is first-rate. Jerzy Palacz’s subtle, controlled lensing contributes to the film’s effective, if modestly budgeted, creation of a mood of inexorable sadness. One could fault its occasional lapses into didactic heavy-handedness, but such excesses don’t obscure the voice of a gifted and resourceful young filmmaker
A Lotus Film production in association with the Austrian Film Institute, Austrian Broadcasting and Vienna Film Financing Fund. Produced by Erich Lackner. Directed, written by Goran Rebic
Camera (color), Jerzy Palacz; editor, Andreas Kopriva; music, Andi Haller; art direction, Bertram Reiter; costume design, Elisabeth Blanke-Pongratz; sound (Dolby SR) Bernhard Weirather, Andreas Kopriva; assistant director, Ramses Ramsauer. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 6, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.
Sascha Merab Ninidze Milan Michi Jovanovic Bora Ljubisa Samardzic Bilja Eva Mattes Suza Tamara Simunovic Grandmother Ratka Krstulovic-Kusturica Uncle Mischa Wolf Bachofner Marko Aleksandar Jovanovic Nena Loretta Pflaum Pero Salko Saric Mira Roswitha Soukup