×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mirage

Superbly modulated yet unrelentingly grim, "Mirage" builds upon a remarkable perf from young Macedonian newcomer Marko Kovacevic to tell the tragic tale of a talented schoolboy driven to violence through neglect and manipulation. Sure to be on the festival circuit, pic will ride strong reviews to solid arthouse numbers and firm ancillary.

With:
Teacher - Mustafa Nadarevic Lazo - Vlado Jovanovski Paris - Nikola Djuricko Blasko - Dejan Acimovic Marko - Marko Kovacevic Levi - Martin Jovcevski Angja - Elena Mose Fanny - Slavica Manaskova

Superbly modulated yet unrelentingly grim, “Mirage” builds upon a remarkable perf from young Macedonian newcomer Marko Kovacevic to tell the tragic tale of a talented schoolboy driven to violence through neglect and manipulation. Appropriately spotlighted in the “Discovery” sidebar of the Toronto festival, work reps a modest triumph of fearless acting and pointed social commentary in the same vein as “Ivan’s Childhood,” which “Mirage’s” first-time co-writers Grace Lea Troje and helmer Svetozar Ristovski acknowledge as a key influence. Sure to be in demand on the festival circuit, pic will ride strong reviews to solid arthouse numbers and firm ancillary.

In the Macedonian railroad town of Vece (Ristovski’s birthplace), young Marko (Kovacevic) endures a rotten home life that includes well-meaning but often sloppily drunk father Lazo (Vlado Jovanovski); mother, Angja (Elena Mose), whose spirit appears completely broken; and venal older sister, Fanny (Slavica Manaskova). His school life is no better, as the boy is routinely picked on and beaten by a gang of toughs led by Levi (Martin Jovcevski), hulking son of local cop Blasko (Dejan Acimovic). Clearly smart enough to keep his eyes open and his mouth shut, Marko spends most of his free time reading or playing chess at the local rail yard.

The one glimmer of light in this otherwise seemingly pre-destined life is Marko’s Bosnian-born teacher (Mustafa Nadarevic), who encourages the boy to compose a poem for an upcoming national celebration and goes so far to suggest entering his writing in a Parisian poetry competition (“to breathe is to hope,” the educator says encouragingly). Marko becomes so engrossed in his task that he begins reciting the work in progress under his breath throughout the day, behavior that earns him a fresh round of beatings.

With the arrival in the rail yard of a friendly soldier of fortune coincidentally named Paris (Nikola Djuricko), Marko’s life begins to change. Paris, whose motto is “eat or be eaten,” teaches the boy to smoke, drink, steal and shoot, coaching him that “once you conquer fear, they will become afraid of you.” This advice proves prophetic, as a chain of events linking the teacher’s shocking cowardice, Paris’ abrupt abandonment of his friend and Levi’s increasing cruelty results in a desperate act on Marko’s part that seals his fate.

Though its downward trajectory may be obvious, the script is a marvel of clarity, economy and metaphor. Ristovski and the Canadian-born Troje are concerned with the ongoing corruption plaguing Macedonia, as well as the ripple effect the country’s slow collapse will have on future generations. Yet by creating a gallery of fundamentally decent but severely flawed characters, they’ve accentuated the heartbreak of good people caught in a system that shows no mercy to the weak and helpless. Like the single fresh bullet that replaces a pawn in Marko’s chess set, the threat of violence is never far.

Onscreen for most of the story, 12-year-old Kovacevic holds the camera with his wide-set eyes and dogged sense of survival. Jovcevski is frighteningly convincing as the amoral bully, while Nadarevic, who looks like an older, profoundly fatigued Liam Neeson, convincingly sells the teacher’s weakness without making him entirely craven.

Tech credits are pro, with good use made of the crumbling yet cozy village. Per press kit, Ristovski has recently relocated his Skopje-based Small Movies shingle to Vancouver, where he’s prepping English-lingo projects.

Mirage

Macedonia

Production: A Crescent Releasing presentation of a Small Movies Production, in association with Synchro Film & Video. (International sales: Crescent Releasing, Vancouver.) Produced by Svetozar Ristovski. Directed by Svetozar Ristovski. Screenplay, Grace Lea Troje, Ristovski.

Crew: Camera (color), Vladimir Samoilovski; editor, Atanas Georgiev; music, Klaus Hundsbichler; production designer, Igor Tosevski; costume designer, Zaklina Krstevska; sound (Dolby Digital), Aleksander Simeonov. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 10, 2004. (Also in Vancouver, Tokyo festivals.) Running time: 108 MIN. (Macedonian, Albanian dialogue)

With: Teacher - Mustafa Nadarevic Lazo - Vlado Jovanovski Paris - Nikola Djuricko Blasko - Dejan Acimovic Marko - Marko Kovacevic Levi - Martin Jovcevski Angja - Elena Mose Fanny - Slavica Manaskova

More Film

  • Actress Shirley MacLaine poses at the

    Shirley MacLaine Selected for AARP Career Achievement Award

    Shirley MacLaine has been selected as the recipient of the AARP’s 2018 Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award. MacLaine will be honored at the 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The Farewell Flower' [...]

  • 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' Trailer: Cate

    Cate Blanchett Disappears in 'Where’d You Go, Bernadette' First Trailer

    Cate Blanchett goes missing in the first trailer for Richard Linklater’s latest film, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” Based on Maria Semple’s 2012 novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” follows agoraphobic architect Bernadette Fox (Blanchett), who disappears just before a family trip to Antarctica. More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The Farewell Flower' “Something unexpected [...]

  • Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in

    'The Favourite' Leads London Critics' Circle Nominations

    Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark historical comedy “The Favourite” lived up to its title with the London Film Critics’ Circle on Tuesday, nabbing 10 awards nominations from the group – twice as many as its nearest rivals. Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” Rupert Everett’s “The Happy Prince” and Pawel Pawlikowski’s European Film [...]

  • Picture Tree Intl. Rolls Out Pre-Sales

    Berlin: Picture Tree Intl. Rolls Out Pre-Sales on B.O. Hit ‘100 Things’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — In the long run-up to February’s Berlin Festival, Picture Tree Intl. has rolled out multiple pre-sales on “100 Things,” which Warner Bros. Pictures bowed in Germany on Dec. 6 to a robust first eight-day €2.7 million ($3.07 million). “100 Things” will receive a market screening at the Berlinale’s European Film Market. More Reviews [...]

  • Mid 90s

    Jonah Hill's 'mid90s,' Pauline Kael Documentary to Screen in Berlin's Panorama Section

    Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, “mid90s,” about a 13-year-old skateboarder’s coming of age, and a documentary on influential film critic Pauline Kael are among the works that will screen in the Panorama section of the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. Films starring Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell and titles from countries including Israel, Brazil and Japan were [...]

  • 'Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies

    ‘Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies 'Weathering'

    Three years after the animation “Your Name” began its long triumphant reign over the Japanese and international box office, its director Makoto Shinkai has announced his next animated feature. Titled “Weathering With You,” the film will arrive in theaters in Japan on July 19 of next year, with Toho distributing. Set in a world where [...]

  • Berlin: The Match Factory Boards New

    Berlin: The Match Factory Boards Competition Titles From Fatih Akin, Emin Alper (EXCLUSIVE)

    German indie powerhouse The Match Factory will handle world sales on two Berlin Film Festival competition titles: German director Fatih Akin’s serial-killer chiller “The Golden Glove” and Turkish director Emin Alper’s family drama “A Tale of Three Sisters.”  Akin, a Hamburg native whose “Head-On” won the Golden Bear in 2004, is returning to the Berlinale [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content