'Love Hunter': Film Review
Nemanja and Brane Bala's film mixes true-life and fictional elements in its portrayal of expatriate Serbian musician Milan Mumin
Reminiscent of Once in its portrait of a talented musician eking out a hardscrabble existence, Love Hunter intriguingly blends true-life and fictional elements in its depiction of Milan Mumin, a celebrated rocker in his native Serbia. Written and directed by siblings Nemanja Bala and Brane Bala, this charming effort just might succeed in bringing attention to its subject's talents to American audiences. The film is currently receiving its U.S. theatrical premiere at NYC's Quad Cinema.
Mumin plays a version of himself, a genial taxi driver who knows all the best cheap places to eat. Once the lead singer of the influential Serbian rock band Love Hunters—the film includes 90s-era archival performance footage—he's now trying to cobble the funds necessary to record a new album. His quest is interrupted by the arrival of his longtime girlfriend Lela (Jelena Stupljanin) who implores him to return home with her and reap the benefits of his local popularity. She's also angling for a marital commitment, which he seems finally ready to embrace.
When his band's bass player suddenly drops out, he recruits talented single mother Kim (Eleanor Hutchins), with whom he strikes both musical and eventually romantic sparks. The resulting love triangle forms the film's slight narrative thrust.
Much of the low-key proceedings is taken up by Milan's interactions with various passengers, including a harried businesswoman who offers him $100 for an impromptu street performance of a song that will cheer her up; a rich elderly woman who doesn't have the funds to pay her fare; and a young couple who engage in a spirited conversation about their future wedding prospects.
Featuring plenty of opportunities for Mumin to show off his gruff singing voice and catchy compositions—one of the film's best moments features him serenading Kim, with unseen instruments providing musical accompaniment—Love Hunter is consistently engaging, mainly thanks to its star's winning personality. Tech credits are on the rough-hewn side, but they're perfectly in keeping with the gritty urban aesthetic.
Production: Love Hunter Films
Cast: Milan Mumin, Jelena Stupljanin, Eleanor Hutchins
Directors/screenwriters/editors: Nemanja Bala, Brane Bala
Producers: Nemanja Bala, Bogdan George Apetri, Brane Bala, Biljana Ilic, Fay Ann Lee
Director of photography: Bogdan George Apetri
Production designer: Marija Plavsic
Costume designer: Sofija Mesicek
Composer: Milan Mumin
Casting: Amy Gossels
No rating, 86 min.