One of the most lyrical, dreamy and purposefully contemplative works from an emerging talent in quite some time, Igor Drljaca makes the jump from short filmmaking to feature length production in the deceptively simple looking Krivina. The phrase “deceptively simple” might seems like a backhanded complement in some circles, but here it’s usage is quite genuine in describing a film that looks great and seems to function as sort of an anti-travelogue grafted onto an almost quixotic search for answers, but Drljaca uses a simple one sentence plot descriptor to take viewers on a slow burning journey through a world of ghosts.
A native of the former Yugoslavia, Miro (Goran Slavković) has been living and working in Toronto as a construction contractor since leaving his homeland during the country’s long and tragic civil war. Miro returns to his homeland to track down information and potentially connect with a friend who left behind that’s currently wanted for war crimes and was known to play both sides of the conflict as a profiteer. Or at least that’s what most of the people tell him on a journey that more often than not ends up amounting to a bit of a goose chase.
The tone here could be easily written off as stoicism thanks to its minimalist look, an excellent “less is more” leading performance from Slavković, and lengthy shots of countrysides and quiet roads, but there’s a huge beating heart at the centre of Drljaca’s work here. Not so much a literal road trip to find a friend, Miro’s journey is indicative of his own troubles turned inward and the journey of an entire nation. Miro doesn’t so much search for answers to his friend’s disappearance, but he unconsciously goes on a search for himself in a country still trying to come to terms with its own national identity.
Through the clever alternating between different filming and editing methods that can sometimes make the audience feel shaky and out of place and some interesting use of sound design, Drljaca makes an interesting statement about distancing going hand in hand with the experience of immigration. Miro suffers almost dreamlike displacement both in Toronto and along his travels. It’s not a trip down memory lane, but a twisty, slow burning search for answers that appropriately lasts the length of a memorable dream. Much like in a dream the questions answered by the people Miro encounters offer bits of truth shrouded in clouds of faulty memories and deliberate obfuscation. The world as portrayed within Drljaca’s film is one where dreams and reality blend into a bigger ball of questions where the participants might not necessarily want the answers. No matter the lead character’s current situation, it’s a facet of the human condition that rarely gets tapped, especially by a filmmaker this early into his career.