Half Sister (2019) Polsestra **** Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2019

July 4th, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Damjan Kozole; Cast: Ursa Menart, Liza Marijina, Jurij Drevensek, Peter Musevski; Republic of Macedonia/Serbia/Slovenia; 105 min.

Another tightly controlled and intriguing drama from veteran documentarian Damjan Kozole, who won best director at Karlovy Vary with Nightlife in 2016 . 

Irena and Nezha, the titular half-sisters hate each others guts – but when push comes to shove, blood proves thicker than life-long animosities. Irina (Menart) works in the local hairdressers: she is protected from the outside world by a half-open jalousie. And it soon emerges why. 

Separated from her violent husband Branco (Drevensek), she is looking for a place to stay and visits her mother. Clearly moving in with her mother is no option, the two have a fractured relationship and the same goes for her father handball coach Silvio (Musevski) who ran off with an Albanian woman when Irena was a little girl. But one of her half-sisters Anisa (Marijina) is moving to Ljubljana to study for an MA in communications, so she asks her father if she could live shares the flat with her rival Nezha, a tomboyish aggressor, who has a knife handy wherever she goes. Nezha immediately blames Silvo (who pays the rent) and Irena for setting her up. But blaming everybody – apart from her dog Jimmy – is Nezha’s default position in life. A vegan (for environmental reasons) she attacks Irena full on: “If Dad wasn’t such a pussy, he’d put you in a nuthouse”. Irena answers with well trained passive-aggressiveness. But when Branco assaults Irena, breaking her nose, the dynamic changes, Nezha going on the attack to defend Irena to the last.

Half-Sister is a brilliant character study, the near-perfect script an exception in today’s landscape of ‘atmospheric non-narratives”. DoP Miladin Colakovic’s intimate camera conveys the emotional range of the rollercoaster, and despite of the antagonistic characters involved, one cannot help but smile. Finally, Menart and Marijina gives remarkable performances, playing off each other like the real thing. AS

Karlovy Vary FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | Until 7 July 2019

 

 

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