×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes Film Review: ‘The High Sun’

Love across ethnic divides has its cliched moments, but visuals offer multiple rewards that transcend the formula.

With:
Tihana Lazovic, Goran Markovic, Nives Ivankovic, Dado Cosic, Stipe Radoja, Trpimir Jurkic, Mira Banjac, Slavko Sobin, Lukrecija Tudor, Tara Rosandic, Ksenija Marinkovic. (Croatian dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4593108/reference

Ingrained Serbo-Croat hatreds cause ongoing pain across three decades and three storylines in Dalibor Matanic’s strongest film to date, “The High Sun.” Using the same talented actors to represent different characters in the trio of narratives, the helmer engages with love across ethnic divides, from doomed to traumatized to hesitantly optimistic. For international cinephiles, the main selling point will be the filmmaking: It’s handsomely mounted and expertly edited, offering rewards quite apart from the too cliched but well-meaning script. “Sun” could become Matanic’s most popular film at home, provided local auds don’t stay away from war-themed topics; limited Euro theatrical exposure is also likely after fest play.

Two villages in sun-drenched late summer — one Croatian, the other Serbian. It’s 1991, and tensions between the two communities are high, with everyone on edge in anticipation of that one spark that will set everything aflame. Serbian Jelena (Tihana Lazovic) and Croatian Ivan (Goran Markovic) soak up the rays lakeside, her more forceful personality well on display. They’re preparing to escape the next day to Zagreb, where family pressures aren’t so toxic, but when her seething brother Sasha (Dado Cosic) gets wind of the plans, he violently tries to stop them.

The drama shifts to 2001, and while the locale is the same, a montage of bombed and ransacked houses reveals the war’s severe physical scars. Natasha (Lazovic) and her mother (Nives Ivankovic) are equally shattered, traumatized by the loss of loved ones as they return to their shell of a home. While Mom is emotional, Natasha is icy, turning aggressively flinty when her mother hires Croatian handyman Ante (Markovic) to help make the house livable. Psychologically wounded and roiling in suppressed sexual tension, these two are bound to clash.

Next, it’s 2011, and memories of the war have barely faded. College boy Luka (Markovic) reluctantly drives from the city with his buddy Ivno (Stipe Radoja) to attend a rave in their village. Luka hasn’t been back for a while, and though he pays his depressed parents a visit, he doesn’t disguise his resentment or his self-anger. The reason becomes clear when he rings the bell of Marija (Lazovic), his Serbian ex, whom he abandoned when she was pregnant with their son.

Of course, Romeo-and-Juliet romances have been around much longer than Shakespeare, and the tale (unfortunately) remains relevant. Making it emotionally compelling, however is the hard part, requiring a heightened degree of likability plus enough originality to give the universal story new life. Matanic (“Mother of Asphalt”) succeeds in the first section, the best of the trio, thanks to the lovers’ fresh appeal and youthful playfulness. While Sasha’s unsubtle rage and a senile granny are stock figures, Jelena and Ivan have a potency that transcends the formula.

The same can’t be said for the Natasha and Ante pairing, where her antagonistic, annoying behavior quickly becomes tiresome, notwithstanding sympathy for her trauma. In the final coupling, emotional investment has waned, although younger auds may identify most with the “kids going to a rave” narrative; also, bringing the action forward to the near-present makes sense in terms of identifying lingering antagonisms as well as offering the possibility of hope for the future.

Leads Lazovic and Markovic bring subtle differences to each character, making every one an individual, though throughout her roles demonstrate stronger personalities than his. Both are especially fine at conveying the physicality of each figure, their bodies a mass of tension.

Visuals are a standout, with lenser Marko Brdar (“A Trip”) making excellent use of widescreen in visually arresting images, from a little purple flower offering a point of color in a green and straw semi-closeup, to the sensuality of a bead of sweat on the back of Lazovic’s neck (although there’s a little too much back-of-the-head in the first section). Establishing shots of the beautiful hilly landscape convey the sense that no matter how much humans destroy, the natural world will remain, beckoning with its eternal tranquility.

Tomislav Pavlic’s editing is praiseworthy, particularly in the 1991 segment, when he establishes a rhythm between medium and long shots that builds for maximum potency. Also noteworthy is the sound design, nicely supporting Pavlic’s cutting.

Cannes Film Review: 'The High Sun'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 17, 2015. Running time: 123 MIN. (Original title: “Zvizdan”)

Production: (Croatia-Slovenia-Serbia) A 2i Film (in Croatia) release of a Kinorama, Gustav Film, See Film Pro production. (International sales: Cercamon, Dubai.) Produced by Ankica Juric Tilic. Co-producers, Petra Vidmar, Frenk Celarc, Nenad Dukic, Miroslav Mogorovic.

Crew: Directed, written by Dalibor Matanic. Camera (color, widescreen), Marko Brdar; editor, Tomislav Pavlic; music, Alen Sinkauz, Nenad Sinkauz; production designer, Mladen Ozbolt; costume designer, Ana Savic Gecan; sound, Mladen Pervan; sound design, Julij Zornik; assistant director, Dragan Juric.

With: Tihana Lazovic, Goran Markovic, Nives Ivankovic, Dado Cosic, Stipe Radoja, Trpimir Jurkic, Mira Banjac, Slavko Sobin, Lukrecija Tudor, Tara Rosandic, Ksenija Marinkovic. (Croatian dialogue)

More Film

  • AMMAN, JORDAN - MAY 13: Naomi

    After Hosting 'Aladdin' 'Star Wars' and 'Dune' Jordan Ups Production Rebates (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jordan is raising its cash back rebate for film and TV productions from 20% to 25% after recently hosting Disney’s ‘Aladdin,’ “Star Wars IX, The Rise of Skywalker,” and the Denis Villeneuve-directed “Dune” reboot. Concurrently, the kingdom, which provides one of the few stable environments for filmmaking in the Middle East, has reinstated the Jordan Film [...]

  • Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Current

    Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Current War' Gets Awards-Season Release

    David Glasser’s 101 Studios is positioning the long-shelved and revamped “The Current War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon, for an awards-season release in October. 101 Studios announced Tuesday that the film would open in limited release on Oct. 4, then go wide on the following weekend. The film presents the story of the “war [...]

  • Just Cause

    'Just Cause' Video Game Getting Movie Adaptation From 'John Wick' Writer

    “Just Cause” is the latest video game getting the movie treatment. Germany’s Constantin Film has acquired movie rights to the “Just Cause” video game franchise and hired “John Wick” creator Derek Kolstad to write the script. Constantin Film’s Robert Kulzer and Prime Universe Films’ Adrian Askarieh will produce the pic with Kolstad, who has written [...]

  • Cannes: Florence Pugh, Francois Civil Honored

    Florence Pugh, Francois Civil Honored With Chopard Award for Rising Talent

    Rising British actress Florence Pugh (“Lady Macbeth”) and French actor Francois Civil (“Wolf’s Call”) received the Chopard Trophy Award at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Chopard on Monday during the Cannes Film Festival. Pugh and Civil were chosen among many actors by a jury consisting of former Chopard Trophy recipients such as Marion Cotillard, Gael [...]

  • Belle Epoque

    Pathé Sells ‘La Belle Epoque’ to Half the World

    French sales, distribution and production company Pathé has closed a raft of sales deals on three titles at the Cannes Film Market: “La Belle Epoque,” “Misbehaviour” and project “Eifel.” The company will handle distribution in France and Switzerland on all three. Nicolas Bedos’ “La Belle Epoque,” which screened out of competition at the festival, is [...]

  • Editorial use only. /NO SALESMandatory Credit:

    Cirque du Soleil Partners With 'Aladdin' Producer Rideback on Projects

    Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is partnering with Rideback, producer of “Aladdin,” “It” and the Lego franchise, to develop movies inspired by the Cirque du Soleil catalogue. The partnership, announced Tuesday, aims to leverage Rideback’s track record and increase the opportunities for a global audience to enjoy the Cirque du Soleil universe. “Cirque du Soleil [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content