The Trap, The Reject, and Gone with the Woman

The Trap is a Serbian drama/thriller that poses challenging moral questions. What would you do to save the life of someone you love? The main characters are a working class family who don’t have the money for an expensive but critical operation that their health care won’t cover. As is apparently the custom there, they advertise in the paper looking for someone to donate towards their expenses.

The film features some good performances and some very good and interesting camera work. I was glad I saw it, though it was pretty depressing for a Saturday morning.

I’ll give it a solid 3 stars out of 4 stars.

The Reject is a Serbian film in which nothing is real, so far as I could tell. The main character, On, is a scruffy looking man who drinks a lot, sleeps with a lot of women, runs up debts, and, incongruously, works in a bank. The festival program says it’s reminiscent of The Big Lebowski, which is both true and completely wrong at the same time.

From the first shot, of On at the beach, you can tell that it’s a dream, though I can’t point to anything specific that told me that. Other times you wonder if he’s awake and what you’re seeing is supposed to be real. The pace is quite slow, but at least usually engaging, and the visuals are a big part of that engagement. But if you asked me what it all meant, I would have to say I have no idea.

The actor who played On, who also produced the film, was at the screening to answer questions. Note that there may be spoilers in here:

  • The film has gotten a good reception from critics, but not so much from audiences
  • In the U.S. it has been in Palm Springs and here
  • It’s the second part of a planned trilogy—Awaking from the Dead was the first
  • He says it’s about what happened in their nation
  • They want to show that there is beauty there, but you cannot behave like you want to behave or even how you used to
  • It is dedicated to the people who are weak and alone
  • They are working on the third film in the trilogy, and expect to film it next year
  • The film is full of symbolism
  • The dog was the only “person” the main character can communicate with
  • He knows this is not a commercial film
  • There are only 5 prints of the film

I’ll give it 2.5 stars out of 4 stars.

Gone with the Woman is what I would call a relationship comedy. It’s Norwegian and was directed by the same man who directed Elling, which I loved.

The main characters are a young man, labelled only as “him” in the IMDb credits (played by Trond Fausa Aurvaag, the lead actor in last year’s The Bothersome Man), and Marianne, a young woman. He’s an aimless mail room worker who takes up swimming, and she just keeps showing up at his apartment, talking more than enough for both of them, and doing impulsive things that feel right. To her. They become a couple, more or less at random.

The guy gets relationship advice from Glenn (Peter Stormare in the only non-English speaking role I can recall him in—he’s great here) and the other men hanging out in the steam room after swimming. This is a case of the severely nearsighted leading the blind.

The movie is very fun and entertaining, and is definitely a more interesting looking film than Elling, but to me it wasn’t quite as fulfilling as I hoped. I still definitely recommend it, in the unlikely event that it becomes available in this country.

I’ll give it a weak 3.5 stars out of 4 stars.

All three films were seen 3/1/2008 at Cinequest.


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