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  Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus Run For Your Lives
Year: 2020
Director: Dalibor Baric
Stars: Rakan Rushaidat, Ana Vilenica, Frano Maskovic, Niksa Marinovic, Mario Kovac, Zeljka Veverec, Boris Bakal, Pavlica Bajsic
Genre: Animated, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: When you are living under a totalitarian state, you find everything seems oppressive and controlling, and that is precisely the way two citizens feel as they try to get by in this country, where men in trenchcoats and trilbies haunt the streets as if they were existing transplanted from an old film noir. Are they spying on this couple or are they merely a visible reminder that they are not free, and have to be guided through their thwarted lives, with force if necessary? Nothing is clear, for the more the couple and their rebellious associates philosophise their way through the city and its limitations, the further they find themselves trapped in a system that fails to recognise them as anything but dangerous individuals, if at all...

At least, that is what appears to be happening, some kind of satire on the Cold War that Eastern Europe, where writer and director Dalibor Baric hails from (he's Croatian), had laboured under from the end of World War 2 to the end of the nineteen-eighties, and judging by this, he is not entirely certain those days are over. Was he commenting on the present in his experience through the lens of the past? He was using old film and television clips in a montage style to create his landscape of that totalitarian state, and while it was possible to watch this from start to finish and have not the faintest clue what he was getting at, that did not mean it was boring to experience, since the impression it left was there was an intelligence behind it, rather than a random selection from the stock library.

Baric had treated his footage to colourful animation tricks to lift it above what could have been simply clip after clip with no context, and this rendered it attractive to the attention span, despite the occasional image that was repellent, but contributed to the overall mood that because you had taken an interest in this film, someone powerful may well take an interest in you, and that may not be a good thing. There was a paranoia here that fed into each visual of those anonymous agents going about their business, to the point where everyone in the city appeared to be spying on everyone else, an absurdist approach to the surveillance state that would not have been out of place in an evening's difficult theatre performance that served as a commentary on the woes of the world, or that part of the world still under extreme control, which remains dispiritingly large.

But this was not theatre, it was film, and it utilised the language of genre and cliché to offer up a work that was part hackneyed use of science fiction and thriller tropes, and part retooling them to fit the commentary on how those genres regarded the landscape of societies that leaned on suppression to keep the denizens in line. Maybe it was ironic that such a steely-eyed indictment of the Eastern Bloc should have emerged from exactly the place where it was staged, or maybe apt, certainly experience must have informed the way this turned out, of not Baric's then those of the older generations he would have grown up with. Once in the final act there is an illusion of freedom when the couple get out of the city and into a forest community, the strict language restrictions we hear, where everything is so precise as to be near-meaningless even to those who think they're following what passes for a plot, indicate there is no escape from the Blue Meanies or their equivalent in this nightmarish existence. They will continue to regulate everything you see and hear because you have grown so used to their influence that you cannot see any other path away from them. Baric did the music, too. That is Peter Cushing, isn't it?

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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