An expressionist tour of the life of Slovenia’s preeminent Romantic poet France Preseren, “A Portrait of a Poet with a Double” is an atmospheric biopic cut down from the TV miniseries “Preseren.” Director Franci Slak (“When I Close My Eyes”) sensitively explores Preseren the man, reducing the public part of his life to nearly nothing. Pubcasters looking for rarefied quality fare may want to take a look.
Film’s conceit is that Preseren (1800-1849) was shadowed by a childhood friend named Pacnjek who is a kind of alter ego, but this is peripheral to the poet’s unhappy life. In Pavle Ravnohrib’s interiorized perf, Preseren is an oafish-looking gent of fine manners and deep feelings who drinks a lot. He absentmindedly neglects to court a beautiful Austrian lady, finds out she has suddenly died, then realizes he loved her. He develops a fixation on a homely 16-year-old already engaged to be married, and makes her the subject of a scandalous poem. The accidental death of his friend Matija Cop has a profound influence on his poetry. His importance as the poet who reinvigorated Slovene literature is mentioned by his friends, in passing.