Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Review of "A Serbian Film"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “A Serbian Film”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Back when I used to post weekly film reviews on blogspot and facebook, I would always ask my friends and anyone else who read my film reviews to recommend films that they would like me to review.  The second most popular film that I was requested to review was a foreign film, simply entitled “A Serbian Film”.  I got a synopsis of the story from someone I used to work with, and I was so appalled by some of the things he told me, that I flat out refused to ever review this film.            
    One year later, another co-worker and I were reminiscing about the first time we watched Ruggero Deodato’s “Cannibal Holocaust”, he simply asked “I wonder if there’s anything more violent then [Cannibal Holocaust”, too which I replied, “Oh yes, there is.”  After a couple weeks he convinced me that we should give it a try.  In the days leading up to the films screening, I was absolutely terrified as too what horrors I would have to endure to get through the Director’s Cut in just one sitting.  Now that it’s over, here is my review.     
Boo Yeah! Made I through This Film in Just One Sitting!
     So here’s the background to the film first:  A retired Serbian Porn star, named Milos, is living a typical suburban life with his wife and young son.  Milos and his wife are having some financial issues.  Since Milos is retired he and his wife don’t have occupations, and are living off of the money Milos form his porn films.  However, the money is drying up quicker than Milos and his wife had ever expected, so Milos is approached by an old friend/porn star who tells him of a man named Vukmir who is planning “a New Age of Porn” and wants Milos to be his star.  Milos agrees to do it and in exchange Vukmir promises to make Milos wealthy enough that he won’t have to worry about money “until his son is a full-grown man”.  Unfortunately, for Milos, Vukmir has something much darker in store for Milos, and everyone he is close to.                 
     Now without giving away too many spoilers, I want to tell say that Yes, this is a graphic movie, and No, it is not the most violent movie I’ve ever seen.  For the first half of a movie, it’s pretty boring. It’s just Milos and his family living day-to-day life; they are pretty much regular average people.  As the film progresses, however, it gets more and more violent.  People die some pretty horrendous deaths in this film, and a good portion of them are related to/or caused by sexual pleasure.  I didn’t have much of a problem with the graphic deaths because they weren’t just violent for the sake of being violent.  The graphic violence in the film, to me, represents Vukmir’s mental and sexual control over his actors and film crew, and we later find out that before becoming a Pornographer, Vukmir used to be a psychologist, so that would explain why he has this “Puppet-Master” like control over everyone in the film.      
    I am NOT a fan of rape scenes in movies, typically when one is happening in a film, I’ll look away or fast forward the film.  There are three rape scenes (that I counted) in this film, and for two of the rape scenes the victims were unconscious.  So for the most part they’re not typical in the sense that they show their victims being forced against their will or tortured because they’ve been drugged unconscious and have no idea what is going on or happening to them.  One of those scenes shows Milos stumbling upon a tape of him being sexually assaulted by one of Vukmir’s Male workers while he was heavily sedated, and Milos until seeing this tape had no memory or any idea that he had been sexually assaulted.                                         
    This film does break a lot of taboo’s on what you should and should not show in films, but they do actually draw a line at pedophilia.  One of the (many) horrible things Vukmir tries to convince Milos to do is have sex with a very young girl on camera, and Milos flat out refuses to.  Milos is so against the idea of pedophilia in film that there a part in the film where he actually holds a knife to his own genitals and threatens to cut it off if Vukmir does not let him leave.  He agrees to let Milo’s go, but devises a plan to get his scene of pedophilia in a way that is sure to humiliate Milos and his entire family.       
    So is this film really as violent and as horrible as everyone says?  In my opinion, no.  I think “Cannibal Holocaust” was way more graphic and violent then “A Serbian Film”.  Yes, there were a few parts in the film that made me cringe and look away from the screen in terror, but overall the film had a good story, good actors, and for the most part the violence had relevance to the plot, and was done in good taste—at least in my opinion.  I would not consider this film controversial, but I would not recommend this film to anyone who is under the age of eighteen. 


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