(Macedonian and Albanian dialogue)
A haunting melange of love and paranoia that begins in Stalinist Albania in 1950, “Across the Lake” is a moving tribute to the individual spirit. Its evocation of the country’s corrupt, prison-like atmosphere and depiction of one man’s quiet resistance to police state tactics and inept bureaucracy put it several cuts above most other East Euro pics looking back on the Communist period. Despite showing strong promise, however, this first feature by Macedonian-born, Polish-schooled helmer Antonio Mitrikeski is primarily a local item, with limited fest exposure indicated.
Konstantin (Nikola Ristanovski) is Macedonian, Elena (Agnieszka Wagner) Albanian; their love affair is terminated by Albania’s retreat from the world under hard-line communism. When Konstantin, in pursuit of Elena, takes a dinghy illegally across the lake that divides them, corrupt Albanian functionaries assume he can only be a spy and sentence him to prison and hard labor.
Finally released, Konstantin is reunited with Elena in her town. They marry and move to the capital, Tirana, where he resumes his occupation as a land surveyor. But then he makes the mistake of requesting a visit to his Macedonian hometown.
Pic is superbly lensed and edited, and the lead actors, especially Ristanovski as Konstantin, are fine. When not overdone, Mitrikeski’s expressionistic effects — as in his portrayal of the Albanian functionaries — add to the dark mood. Major problem with the movie is the recurring panpipes of composer Gheorghe Zamfir, which grate incessantly.