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JDIFF 2014 Reviews #3 – Circles (Krugovi)

Our third 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival review post come from friend of Spooool.ie and Bosnian football and culture enthusiast, Rob Clougher.

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circlesCircles (Krugovi)
★★★½

Director: Srdan Golubović
Country of origin: Serbia
Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Nebosja Glogovac, Vuk Kostic

Duration: 112 minutes
Year: 2013

Drop a pebble in a pond and watch the ripples flow outwards – that’s what Srdan Golubović attempts in this story of guilt, forgiveness, forgetting and fortitude, set both during and after the various Balkans’ wars which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

In 1993 we see Marko, a Serbian solider, return home from duty to a small town in Bosnia. Shortly after coming back he intervenes to save Haris, a Muslim, who is being beaten and abused by a group of his Serb comrades. The action stops here. What happens to Marko? What happens to Haris? What happens to the soldiers? The rest of the film explores these questions.

The story jumps forward 12 years and we get some answers. Each character is visited by somebody with a connection to the day Marko intervened. Haris has begun a new and successful life in Germany, which is threatened when Marko’s former lover pays him a surprise visit. In Zagreb, Ranko – a friend of Marko’s who witnessed the intervention – is now a doctor, but he too is visited by someone present on the fateful day. Meanwhile, back in Bosnia, Marko’s father has set about rebuilding a Serbian Orthodox church, brick by brick, on an arid hill outside the village. He, too, has a visitor.

As with many dramas set around the Balkans’ conflicts, the director forgoes the temptation to untangle the complex political factors which led to the bloodiest European conflict since the Second World War. However, the human conflict, the personal messiness, the untidy business of moving on from tragedy and injustice is the central and indeed strongest feature of this film and is dealt with tenderly and insightfully. In more ways than one this is a difficult story to tell and for that alone it is worth seeing.

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