Clip (Klip): Saravejo Film Review

Klip Closeup Still - H 2012

Klip Closeup Still - H 2012

Teens running wild in modern-day Serbia.

Maja Milos's film follows a group of rebellious teenagers from the impoverished southern suburbs of contemporary Belgrade.

Sarajevo -- An explosively energetic tale of dysfunctional love and explicit sex among the post-Facebook generation, this powerful debut feature takes us inside a group of rebellious teenagers from the impoverished southern suburbs of contemporary Belgrade. These are 21st century delinquents with their smart-phone cameras endlessly recording each other as they bully, brutalise, vandalise and star in home-made porn movies. They also get wasted at wild parties, where they scream along to “turbo-folk” music, a rowdy Balkan hybrid that mixes profane street slang with torrid romantic melodrama. Imagine Larry Clark's Kids directed by Emir Kusturica.

Troubled teens looking for illicit kicks is hardly the most original plot, but the young Serbian writer-director Maja Milos spices some over-familiar tropes with a potent cocktail of raw-knuckled realism and full-frontal nudity. Showing close to home in Sarajevo after winning awards and raising eyebrows at various Euro festivals, Clip may attract some viewers for the wrong reasons. Peppered with graphic sex, including close-up shots of realistic-looking erections, this feels like a movie designed to provoke. But at heart it is also a well-acted and serious-minded coming-of-age drama, with a theme that is universal enough to make a respectable splash in foreign markets.

Screen novice Isidora Simijonovic gives a persuasive star performance as 16-year-old Jasna, a fiery beauty with a self-destructive crush on her bullying, emotionally aloof, 18-year-old schoolmate Djole (Vukasin Jasnic). Jasna’s life plays out as an apparently endless cycle of family friction, sense-obliterating hedonism and frequently degrading sex. But she also shares a tender bond with her sick father and shows her sweet side during a visit to children’s home, an incongruously comic interlude shot in a winningly naturalistic style.

A lesser film might have over-explained Jasna’s motives or punished her actions, but Milos maintains a non-judgmental distance throughout. This may be because, at 29, she is still close enough in age to her protagonists not to sensationalise or moralise about them. And while Jasna’s sado-masochistic devotion to the abusive Djole may be troubling, it smacks of authenticity. Neither is entirely victim nor villain. Some may find this savage love story prurient or overly nihilistic, but anyone with teenage children of their own is more likely to wince with recognition at the bitter playground rivalries and peer-pressure cruelty exposed here.

Milos shoots with visceral immediacy and stylistic panache. Her insertion of smart-phone footage into the action is also a pleasingly contemporary touch, lending the film’s opening act a ragged, collage-like texture. These clips recede in the latter half, when dramatic momentum stalls and Jasna’s journey gets a little bogged down in rowdy, boozy repetition. But by this point, the only option is to surrender to the story’s crazed punk energy. Clip may not ultimately have much original to say, but it still says it with great vigour and passion.

Venue: Sarajevo film festival screening, July 8
Production company: Film House Bas Celik
Cast: Isidora Simijonovic, Vukasin Jasnic, Sanja Mikitisin, Jova Maksic, Monja Savic
Director: Maja Milos
Writer: Maja Milos
Producers: Jelena Mitrovic, Srdan Golubovic
Cinematography: Vladimir Simic
Editor: Stefan Filipovic
Sales company: Wide Management, Paris
Rating TBC, 102 minutes