Focusing on a group of troubled young men in a run-down Zagreb suburb, helmer Branko Schmidt’s realistic and disturbing “Metastases” shows violence, nationalism, alcoholism and addiction raging through postwar Croatia like a cancer. Pic’s grim subject matter is made palatable by powerful performances throughout. Although this cautionary tale (well adapted from a bestselling novel) nabbed numerous awards at the national competition in Pula and scored more than 30,000 box office admissions, export seems limited to fests and ancillary.When aimless twentysomething Filip (Franjo Dijak) returns from a stint at a Spanish drug rehab center, he quickly resumes old habits and friendships, getting drunk with violent skinhead Krpa (a frighteningly physical turn from Rene Bitorajac), unreliable junkie Dejo (Rakan Rushaidat) and hapless alcoholic Kizo (Robert Ugrina). The first half’s chapter-like structure encompasses a picture of each man’s home life: With nothing to do except drink, fight and support local soccer club Dinamo, the protags rep members of an angry, alienated generation unable to adjust to new social rules and capitalist expectations. The jittery handheld lensing matches the in-your-face nature of the dramatics; other tech credits are suitably grungy.
A Telefilm (Croatia)/Refresh (Bosnia-Herzogovina)/Luks Film (Serbia) production with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture and Croatian National Television. Produced by Stanislav Babic. Directed by Branko Schmidt. Screenplay, Ognjen Svilicic, based on the book by Ivo Balenovic.
Camera (color) Dragan Ruljancic; editors, Vesna Lazeta, Hrvoje Mrsic; music, Goran Bare; art director, Mladen Ozbolt; costume designer, Zeljka Franulovic. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, Nov. 28, 2009. (In Thessaloniki Film Festival -- Balkan Survey; Moscow, Montreal, Pusan film festivals.) Original title: Metastaze. Running time: 84 MIN.
Rene Bitorajac, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat, Robert Ugrina, Jadranka Dokic, Daria Lorenci, Ivo Gregurevic, Ljiljana Bogojevic.
With: Rene Bitorajac, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat, Robert Ugrina, Jadranka Dokic, Daria Lorenci, Ivo Gregurevic, Ljiljana Bogojevic.