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Krivina | TIFF 2012 Review

Ghosts Of Bosnian Past: Drljaca’s Tenuous Homecoming

First time full length helmer Igor Drljaca returns to the sparse aesthetics found in his previous shorts On A Lonely Drive and Woman in Purple with his hypnotic feature debut, Krivina, a journey of perceptual exploration and regional penance that borders on drowsy. His story revolves around a Bosnian expatriate returning home to his mother country, searching for former acquaintances that bear their own tales of woe, made up or not.

We follow Miro (Goran Slavkovic), a man who’s vague life story keeps him on the move, never staying in one place for long. He has made Toronto his current place of residence, but after hearing that his long lost friend Dado has been missing well over a decade, he decides to make his way back to Bosnia to try to track him down. Dado has a dark and murky past himself. He is a wanted man, a war profiteer on the run for crimes that took place during the war. When Miro returns to look for him, everyone seems to know the criminal quite personally, but no one has seen him ages.

With a combination of long static takes and uncomfortably scored panoramic landscapes, Drljaca produces a haunting aura that only begins to make sense as the narrative veers into the surreal. It isn’t until deep into the film that he gives us legitimate reason to question what is real and what may be imagined. Are these people mourning for their fellow countrymen or just certifiably mental? One can’t be sure, but it seems Bosnia is not just haunted by its war torn history, but by perpetually retrospective souls wandering towards that always just out of reach glimmer of hope.

Early on Miro is seen repeating his tragic life’s story in a mirror as if rehearsing, only to repeat the tale shortly after to an uninterested co-worker, seemingly trying to work out the meaning of his own constant migration through awkward conversation. Slavkovic hides Miro’s truths behind a blankly troubled expression, an emotional barrier that we never gain access to. Instead, Krivina forces us to slowly speculate from a distance, confoundedly.

Reviewed on September 7th at the 2012 Toronto Int. Film Festival – Discovery Programme – 70 mins.

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