Directed by: Srdjan Spasojevic
Written by: Aleksander Radivojevic, Srdjan Spasojevic
Starring: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic and Jelena Gavrilovic
After watching Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film, I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t reaching for a vom-bucket and I wasn’t provoked to think about the film in any meaningful way. To say the least, I was gravely disappointed and confused… for a lack of words.
When a film takes the liberty of visually confronting an audience with images of sexual violence to women, children and to a far lesser degree (in my opinion) to the male characters in the film, it has to SAY something that is greater and far more important than the “oh no that’s gross” anxieties of an audience who may shun away from such concepts. But as A Serbian Film didn’t seem to provide any political or social narrative through its blood and cum frenzy, I had to turn to the November 2010 interview with Spasojevic featured in Empire Magazine. Yes… a movie actually didn’t explain itself well enough, that I had to resort to a publication.
According to Spasojevic, the film is an allegory of the political and social “rape” that goes on in Serbia. He comments on the fact that the film is a reflection of life and art as Serbians are raped from the day they are born, throughout their life, and even after they die.
OK – I can live with the fact that that would be a subject you would want to express confrontingly through a thriller film, and the possibilities that open up with the basic premise of a messed up porno job for a father/once-legendary-pornstar can be intriguing and interesting. BUT the central message that is so incredibly, ridiculously important (i.e. Serbia’s political and social victimization of its citizens) needs to be apparent and not washed over with senseless and never-ending gratuitous gore. While something vaguely related to this is mentioned in a quick spiel by Vukmir – the mastermind behind the mysteriously messed up porno – it is too vague and the philosophy behind Vukmir’s desires have no direction or even a destination. Who is this porno made for? How will it have any impact on the victimization that he speaks of in relation to the Serbian children, women and men that are unfairly victimized? And how are they victimized?! What is the political and social climate of contemporary Serbia?
Without answering these questions, A Serbian Film touches (well… violently rapes) issues and ideas that it doesn’t deserve to. As much as I love blood and guts, severed heads and intensely disgusting imagery in film, A Serbian Film‘s lack of a developed, and well-expressed political message, careless use of children and women, and all-round boring story that has gaping holes of logic every fifteen or so minutes, made this viewing-experience one that wasn’t so much a shocking and disgusting ride as I had hoped, but one that was brainlessly tiresome and pointless.
On a side note, I would also appreciate it if directors would stop worrying so much about whether an audience will think their films are ‘too controversial’ or ‘too shocking’, because I would hate for you to believe that the bad reception of a film is associated with that. Believe me, the bad reception comes from your lack of depth in telling a good story.