26 June 2015

Before the Rain

Before the Rain 1994
  • Director: Milcho Manchevski
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Katrin Cartlidge, Rade Serbedzija, Gregoire Colin, Labina Mitevska, Jay Villiers, Silvija Stojanovska, Phyllida Law
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Katrin Cartlidge – From Hell, Topsy-Turvy, Hotel Splendide, Career Girls, Breaking the Waves, Naked
    • Rade Serbedzija – Downton Abbey, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Batman Begins, Eyes Wide Shut
    • Gregoire Colin  Olivier, Olivier
    • Jay Villiers – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bonekickers, Extras, Henry V
    • Phyllida Law – Copying Beethoven, Saving Grace, Milk, The Winter Guest, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, The Life and Death of King John, Upstairs Downstairs
  • Why? Katrin Cartlidge
  • Seen: 13 June 2015 

Three stories.
‘Words’. An orthodox monastery. A young monk Kiril has taken a vow of silence. He finds a girl hiding in his cell. A man is being buried. Women grieve. Soldiers keep watch with their machine guns. Katrin Cartlidge watches from a hill. The soldiers come to the church looking for the girl, calling her the Albanian whore. Christians. Muslims. War. It’s a brutal and tender story.  And inevitably tragic.
‘Faces.’ Katrin Cartlidge in a library in London.  Studying photos of the ethnic camps. She’s pregnant. Photographer Alex, uncle to Kiril in the first story, is her lover. He’s returned from Bosnia. The war has damaged him. He wants her to go to the newly independent Macedonia with him. She says she can’t. She studies the photos of Kiril and the girl. She has dinner with her estranged husband. Brutal violence in the restaurant. Something to do with the ethnic wars in what was once Yugoslavia.
‘Pictures.’ Macedonia. Alexander has returned after sixteen years. He encounters the young soldier from the first story, and his cousins and friends. The soldiers. He asks about his first love, Hana. They say: forget her. She’s Albanian. His village is torn apart by war after the war. There is hate and suspicion.  
The connections between the stories are unclear, confusing. Just as the war is.
There is a helpless beauty to this film. It explains nothing of the continuing Balkan war. It gives some individual faces in that war.
It’s really not possible to rate a film like this. How does one rate war and individual hatred and ethnic fanaticism and tragic human stupidity?  That’s what this film wants to show and it does so, strongly.  But I’m unable to let it in and touch me deeply. That would be too painful.

3 ½ * of 5


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