Also with: Katanna Gojkovic, Dragan Jovanovic, Vladan Dujovic, Bata Stojkovic , Stev Zigon, Nidola Pejakovic.
Although not entirely successful, “Why Have You Left Me?” — first-timer Oleg Novkovic’s senior thesis film — bears the crux of his youthful existential angst while painting a bleak picture of a country where people have lost faith in the future. Because of its topicality, film should find interest on the fest circuit.
Pic chronicles the effects of Yugoslavia’s bloody civil war on a small group of friends, some of whom are conscripted and then tossed onto the front lines. After a few brusque battle scenes, the majority of the film concerns these characters’ unsuccessful efforts to reintegrate themselves into daily life.
Pic opens at a Serbian disco, where we meet Pedja (Zarco Lausevi) and Ljuba, the gay lover of Pedja’s girlfriend’s brother. Then cut to the front lines, as Pedja, Ljuba and their older friend Rabe dodge bullets and view of the horrors of war.
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Ljuba is shot, and the trio encounters a young woman who had been raped. They stay with her and her family, caring for Ljuba in his final moments. The woman even gives him a tape of the song “Why Have You Left Me?” to comfort him.
Pedja cannot shake this young woman from his mind. They are both refugees and cannot go back to life as it was before. When he sees her in Zagreb, he goes to look for her on the banks of the Danube and in a cemetery, where she steals flowers from the graves.
She wanders aimlessly around the city singing such eclectic fare as “The Girl From Ipanema” and the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Her shell-shocked demeanor draws him to forget his former g.f. Ivana, who has arranged a new life for them in Paris. When his friend Rabe commits suicide by playing pool with a loaded grenade, Pedja and the young woman throw all caution to the wind.
The film’s over-earnest message underlines the fact that these characters are all victims of a meaningless war, and that an equally meaningless death is their ultimate fate.
Tech credits and acting are OK.