SXSW Film Festival Movie Review: GORAN

Welcome witches and warlocks,
 
Today I will be reviewing the dark comedy GORAN by director Nevio Marasovic.  To best describe the story I will use my own plot summary:
 
"A simple taxi driver named Goran begins to see his life spin violently out of control soon after he discovers that his wife is probably having an affair."
 
When I finished watching this feature I had one particular image in my mind: dominoes.
 
Allow me to explain.
 
Decades ago Alan Moore wrote the incredible graphic novel V FOR VENDETTA which he divided into three distinct chapters.  On the title page of the first chapter there was a hand setting up a singular domino.  The second chapter showed the hand setting up even more dominoes around the first while the third showcased the fingers tipping the dominoes over into one another.  It was a fantastic way to demonstrate the setup, the expanding of the characters, and the eventual toppling of the plot.
 
This film follows a similar structure as it slowly builds its way to the bloodstained finale.  Before we even hit the home stretch there was a moment that surprised me and made me think I knew how the story planned on proceeding.  I am happy to report that I was entirely wrong as what they did was so much better than I could have imagined.
 
What made a lot of this piece so effective is that it drops us into the story completely unaware of how everyone is related to one another or each person's background.  Heck, one character was blind and it took me a while to figure that out for myself.  This approach means we have to really pay attention to the names and interactions to figure out the world these people inhabit.  While we are busy learning who is who, they are subtly seeding information for us that will play into the ending.

Speaking of the finale, the last few long shots make a great impression as they add a humorous elegance to the world ripped asunder events.  There were quite a few moments during this picture where the cinematography gave the feeling that we were strolling through the rooms these people occupied and were peeking into their private lives.  The camera work felt very much in step with the thrust of this feature, as a lot of emphasis was put upon the secret lives of those in a tiny village.
 
The actors do a fantastic job of breathing life into their small town roles.  Franjo Dijak does an especially good job of portraying the quietly struggling Goran who seems ready to fall apart at any moment. Watching him slowly turn from pent up frustration to acceptance of his situation is practically a master class in how using restraint adds reality to a performance.

All in all, the pacing might be slower than most modern features, but the ending proves how meticulous plotting can have an excellent payoff.  The gorgeous long takes, lifelike performances, and surprises along the way make this well worth a look.  People who like the snow covered suspense of FARGO (1996) or A SIMPLE PLAN (1998) should watch this right away.

Nighty nightmares,
The Creeping Craig