Fascinating on paper and a near-stiff on execution, Martin Repka’s “Return of the Storks” at first seems to be a fine addition to a growing lineup of Euro films addressing the human response to human trafficking. Mostly German in terms of style (think a milder version of the tougher tendencies in new German cinema) and Slovak in terms of subject, pic’s unfocused and droopy narrative about a German gal searching out her Slovak grandmom in the sticks is a study in good ideas wasted. Topline fests will say no, leaving room for generally minor fests to nibble.
Fired from her flight attendant job in Frankfurt, Vanda (Katharine Lorenz) impulsively bolts from her b.f. (Florian Stetter) to journey into deepest Slovakia, to find … well, she doesn’t know exactly. This vagueness settles on the character like a veil, turning her into a mostly passive observer of characters around her, including swarthy gravedigger and human smuggler Miro (Lukas Latinak). Why Vanda is attracted to such a shady figure, considering that he’s married to an incredibly tolerant wife, is just one of the script’s innumerable problems.