Klopka (The Trap)
directed by Srdan Golubovic
starring Nebojsa Glogovac, Marko Djurovic, Natasa Ninkovic
What’s a life worth? In post-communist Belgrade, about 30,000 Euros, the price of a slightly nice automobile. It’s also the amount offered to Mladen (Nebojsa Glogovac) to commit murder, and exactly the amount needed for a heart operation for his ill son, Nemanja (Marko Djurovic). The offer is tempting as the post-Milosevic economy offers little promise for a functionally unemployed civil engineer. His employer is for sale, and only wife Marija’s (Natasa Ninkovic) salary keeps them afloat. It’s not that Mladen is actually bloodthirsty; everyone regards him as a decent, hardworking, if un-humorous man. The mysterious man hiring him is just as displaced by the revolution in Serbia’s politics, and neither has much to gain here. Like any good horror story, a series of small, insignificant wrong turns ends up taking Mladen down, and his desperation destroys his only benefactor. It’s Film Noir, shot in a flat grey tone that comments on decades of failed governments.
Film Movement has discovered Serbian-Bosnian cinema, and while the workmanship here is excellent, there is a dull, grey plodding quality to the film that reflects the lost glory of a never very glorious society. Mladen rarely cracks a smile, and the affection he and Marija share in the opening scene fades just as quickly as options for saving their son. With his dour mood, industrial haircut and glasses, Mladen looks like a journeyman computer programmer for Kraftwerk. Little Nemanja looks as lost as his parents feel — he has no desire to burden them, and expresses his frustration by furiously sketching and coloring.
In a surprisingly animated supporting role we find a vintage red Renault 4. The car is the size of a Lincoln Navigator’s cup holder, but its brilliant and very noticeable paint job is the only color in a grey and cloudy city. It’s director Golubovic’s way of saying there is some hope, even as bits and pieces of Mladen come flying out of it. With a stylish story and acting as good as any you’ll find in an Eastern European movie, some nips and tucks in the editing could push this from a respectable film to a brilliant one. The bland apartments of Belgrade take on a nearly Hitchcockian surrealism — troubles rain down, and in a failed attempt to escape existential wrath, hubris claims another victim with bad planning and cool camera angles.
Film Movement: www.filmovement.com