Review: All Alone
by Vladan Petkovic
- Croatian filmmaker Bobo Jelčić is back in the Sarajevo competition with his second feature film
All Alone [+see also:
interview: Bobo Jelčić
film profile] by Croatia's Bobo Jelčić feels like a logical extension of the themes and aesthetics he introduced us to with his first feature film, A Stranger [+see also:
interview: Bobo Jelcic
film profile], which picked up the Best Actor Award at Sarajevo for its lead, Bogdan Diklić. In his new film, screening in competition at the Sarajevo Film Festival, the director again focuses on one protagonist, played fantastically by Rakan Rushaidat, and his troubled relationship with the world around him.
From the very start, Jelčić dives straight into the subject matter, with an office sequence in which social workers and lawyers are citing excerpts of family laws regarding child visitation time for divorcees. Although the sequence is relatively brief, because of the way it is edited by Vladimir Gojun, and the impenetrable legal language they are using, viewers will be forgiven for squirming in their seats.
Soon we meet our protagonist, Marko (Rushaidat), who keeps saying he is on good terms with his wife (whom we never meet) but that he wants to extend his visitation time with his seven-year-old daughter, Ela. He files a petition, but the clerk (Ksenija Marinković in a wonderful episode) basically tells him that this will do more harm than good.
At home, the situation for Marko is similar. He is staying with his uncle and aunt (Miki Manojlović and Snježana Sinovčić Miškov), and of course, they have his best interests at heart and their own ideas of how he should be handling things. The uncle keeps talking about a big-shot lawyer friend of his who must be able to help him. Marko's friends also want to help him out by dispensing advice: for instance, to go to Bosnia, where he was born, and take the daughter with him, because it's much easier to try something from a country with laxer laws and greater opportunities for bribing judges.
Throughout all of this, Marko is indeed all alone. We see that he is a decent man and wants to do things by the book, but even that works against him. He will try everything, but he is also very insecure and troubled, so he tries to rely on dubious advice from people close to him. It seems as though they have his best interests at heart, but it is actually more important to them to show that it is they who know what to do.
Rushaidat is the man the whole film depends on, and he does a great job. He is so firmly in the focus of the movie that the whole story seems like it is told from his PoV, even when we see him on screen.
DoP Erol Zubčević's camera is always hand-held and films the hero in cluttered spaces, between folders on the lawyer's desk or in amongst a crowd of people in the waiting room. Zubčević shoots all of the characters from a very short distance, often from crooked angles, and this is complemented by some very detailed sound design by Ranko Pauković. Everybody is always talking, and speech becomes a background sound that Marko either gets lost in or totally ignores. The whole supporting cast, led by the amazing Manojlović, is excellent, but this is one of those rare cases where everything fits together perfectly to result in a film that is much more than the sum of its parts.
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