Former high-school friends repping the generation of Serbs who came of age during the bloody ’90s reunite for a long night of drink, drugs and home truths in “Huddersfield,” helmer Ivan Zivkovic’s raw, intense debut. Adapted from a popular play by Ugljesa Sajtinac that’s still running in Belgrade, pic deals with Serbian identity in the post-Communist world. More universally, “Huddersfield” is in the tradition of kitchen-sink works about angry young men. Although there’s much to admire here, it’s definitely not for all tastes, with fests the best bet for export.
Action unfolds in an unspecified Serbian backwater, an ultra-macho world where men are crude and quick-tempered, and women are either sex objects, crazy castrating bitches or absent heartbreakers. Repeated references to “Hamlet” drive home the point that something’s rotten, problems exist between generations, and madness might strike at any moment.
Bitter, would-be writer Rasha (Goran Susljik) shares a run-down apartment with his loudmouth alcoholic father (Josef Tatic, in a blisteringly o.t.t. perf). Since his girlfriend left him five years ago, Rasha’s essentially stopped trying. Claiming to live on “suffering and freelancing,” he sleeps with a succession of teen girls who admire his lacerating wit. His latest victim is sexy Milica (Suzana Lukic).
A visit from emigre Igor (Damjan Kecojevic), whom he hasn’t seen in 11 years, catalyzes a dark night of the soul for Rasha, aspiring yuppie Dule (Vojin Cetkovic) and heavily medicated Ivan (Nebojsa Glogovac), a once promising youth. Igor lives in Huddersfield — an equally provincial part of England, but here seen as a place of infinite possibility.
Middle-generation talents Susljik and Glogovac produce as well as repeat their stage roles. However, the pic would have been better served by casting younger men. The characters in the original play also were coming to terms with being 30. In the film, Rasha and Ivan make a point of saying they’re 33, but Susljik and Glogovac look older thanthat.
Tech package is serviceable, but lacks a cinematic equivalent for the explosive desperation of its characters, making it feel somewhat stagebound.