“Consequences” is a somewhat daring enterprise for Slovenia in that it doesn’t judge its characters for their bi or gay sexuality. Indeed, their simultaneous extreme machismo and party-hearty vibe seem designed to impress younger viewers that these figures are cool whoever they shag. Offshore, however, Darko Stante’s promising first feature looks more like a bad-boy beefcake fest whose precise point beyond titillation is unclear. Nonetheless, this well-crafted drama should be welcome at gay tests and in niche home-format sales around the world.
Broodingly handsome — though there’s scant evidence he’s actually the thinking type — Andrej (Matej Zemljic) is a mature-looking 18-year-old ne’er-do-well whose mother (Rosana Hribar) is at wit’s end with him. He refuses to attend school or get a job, and a rap sheet of petty criminal offenses is now capped by his striking a girl at a party after she’d complained about his lack of sexual follow-through.
As a last chance, he’s sent to a detention center where he and other delinquent boy-men are boarded during the week. Their course work includes basic social skills, yet the institution seems wildly ineffective at anything corrective — the cowed staff has no disciplinary authority at all, and its charges simply ignore members’ commands most of the time.
Andrej quickly susses out that the bullies ruling the place are smirking, self-satisfied Zele (Timon Sturbej) and his Neanderthal sidekick Niko (Gaspar Markun). But they accept the newcomer into their clique once Andrej demonstrates he can bench-press as much weight as Zele. This means the trio spend weekends together running amok, robbing people, stealing cars, doing drugs and girls. Well, Zele does his girlfriend, Svetlana (Lea Cok); Andrej is notably ambivalent about whatever female companionship throws itself his way.
He’s much less ambivalent when it turns out Zele and his even brawnier civilian pal, Miki (Dominik Vodopivec), are not at all averse to same-sex messing around, so long as it’s on the sly. But this alliance is inevitably set to combust: Zele leans on Andrej to forcibly collect debts that are often fabricated or wildly inflated, and he also informs Andrej point-blank that he videotapes everybody’s transgressions for blackmail purposes. There are no prizes for guessing just how their relationship finally sours.
The body-beautiful protagonists do have a certain animal charisma, and while loosely plotted, their doings are tightly paced and credibly ever on the edge of violence. Still, there’s not much rooting interest here: Andrej is an amoral blank who doesn’t appear stupid yet seems utterly surprised when Zele turns out to be exactly the exploitative, disloyal psychopath he’d given every sign of being all along. There’s satisfaction in the crude justice of their climactic confrontation. But whether Andrej winds up ruined for life, or whether indeed he deserves a second chance to begin with, are concerns that seem beyond the film’s gritty, sensational yet also superficial purview.
Ultimately, Stante’s raw energy and sure hand with actors are more encouraging than the screenplay’s lack of depth is bothersome. The soundtrack is dominated by abrasive local hip-hop/dance tracks, a suitable accompaniment to Ljubljana lives destructively lived gangsta-style.