Guna Zariņa as Renāte and Rolands Zagorskis as the policeman Krasts are among the actors in the Andis Mizišs film Medības. (Publicity photo)
Emir Kusturica is a world-renowned Serb filmmaker who makes great surreal and absurdist films. Time of the Gypsies and Arizona Dream come to mind. Medības tries to traverse the same terrain, but unfortunately Andis Mizišs, the director of the film, is no Kusturica.
The elements are there, but somehow they never really come together into a cohesive story in which we care about either the characters or the outcome of their actions.
The film opens with a scene of two men making and bottling juice in a rundown former train station. A train pulls up. It’s the owner of the bottling operation stopping by to check on the progress. The train also serves as a home for unwed mothers and the bottling operation owner seems to be their matron. The men hadn’t been paid in a while and ask as to their wages. The owner gives them the runaround and instead presses them to finish the latest shipment. The train pulls away, one of the bottlers goes back in and out of spite adds some poison to a few of the bottles. The entire shipment is then delivered to a small country bar.
Elsewhere a trio of orienteering competitors gets lost in the woods; a hunting party, also on rails, sets out for their annual hunting party; a famous architect and his highly strung lover are working out some issues; and a local policeman is trying to keep his young partner awake at a railroad crossing.
Keeping track? All of these characters and stories of course will be intertwined and then stuff will happen or, as a friend of my commented, “and then it gets weird.”
Medības is not all bad. There are some good performances (Guna Zariņa’s Renāte the best among them) and the stories have potential, but it’s just that it never really comes together. It’s just a lot of exposition about really strange situations and the sometimes strange people who get trapped in them.
The title itself seems to be an allusion to the personal and emotional hunts we all engage in our daily lives. But there’s just too much of the strange here that is never really explained. It’s a strangeness overload and we are far too busy making up our own back stories for the characters to have any time to actually relate to them. Just starting with the train, is it really that easy and simple to operate your own train, maintain your own track? Doesn’t it cost money to operate a train and why put a home for unwed mothers on it and who would ever send or willingly find themselves on this one?
(Editor’s note: This review originally appeared on the author’s blog, Not Really a Blog, and is republished with permission.)
Andis Mizišs, director
Ego Media, 2009
Notes: In Latvian. Drama, color, 80 minutes. Screenplay: Elvita Ruka and Kaspars Odiņš; camera: Agris Birzulis; art director: Jurģis Krāsons; composer: Kārlis Auzāns; editors: Igors Verenieks and Dāvis Sīmanis; principal cast: Guna Zariņa, Rolands Zagorskis, Andris Keišs, Jana Sekste, Indra Burkovska, Santa Didžus, Beata Grickeviča, Kaspars Znotiņš, Artuss Kaimiņš and Juris Lisners.