2013 was the Slovakian year
of the dog. The bleak drama My Dog Killer
toured the festival circuit making headlines for Slovak cinema with
domestic production gearing up to tickle international audiences once more before
the end of the year with a similarly grim drama hidden under the lyrical title Miracle
was planned for
domestic release early in this year but after being selected at the prestigious Karlovy Vary film festival
the official world premiere was held in famous Czech spa town. And it has continued to collect awards here and despite not
making as much noise in the international press as did Mira Fornay´s drama. However,
that does not reduce its quality.
was written and directed by Juraj
Lehotský (co-penned with grey screenwriting eminence of recent Slovak films,
Marek Leščák) as his second film. Lehotský has already acquired some prominence
with his docudrama debut, Blind Loves
which premiered in the Director´s Fortnight program at Cannes 2008. Even though Miracle
blooded fiction feature the director retains several documentary aspects to
render the experience rawer as did his colleagues, Mira Fornay in My Dog Killer
or Iveta Grófová in Made in Ash
falls within the niche of dreary Slovak dramas under the auspice of the
leitmotif of family disintegration.
The first scene of the film opens with
hysterical fifteen-year old Ela (Michaela Bendulová) refusing to leave a car.
After several minutes, it becomes apparent that she is being referred to
a re-education centre; one of the reasons being that her mother does not know how
to raise a kid. The social anamnesis draws upon the sins of fathers/mothers
scenario adding into the mix a coming-of-age scheme underlined by premature
confrontation with the outside world.
Ela is the product of her parents' irresponsibility
and the victim of immature illusions about love. She is not only rejected by
her mother but also by her junkie boyfriend (played by theatre hot shot Robert Roth)
who, like her mother, cannot handle his own life let alone hers. The central
storyline plays as revision of the famous forbidden love story, while Julia in
this case yearns for love and Romeo for coke. Lady Capulet tries to get her
life under control and everybody gets their head around the ever-puzzling
conundrum that life is. Dreams are being shattered and the sense of life
still out of reach.
The protagonist of Miracle
is not prepared to face the outside world as well as
heroine in Made in Ash
who is left on her own far away from home to do the only
thing a lost girl could. Ela undergoes a similar tribulation albeit not for
money, but for higher cause - an idyllic life or at least the illusion of idyllic
life. The director keeps the frustration piling up until the bitter and almost
climactic finale where Ela finally experiences her needed and denied epiphany.
Michaela Bendulová has been already praised for
striking performance taking into account also the fact that she is not professional
actress and was found in a re-education centre during pre-production. The
director keeps the doc feeling enhancing the social realism dimension of the
film. Curiously enough, a Seidl´s vibe well-known from Import/Export
is traceable and recognizable in one particular
scene. Although, the motif of Seidl´s case study on life in west and east part
of Europe, running from something and running to something dominates also
, and the foul taste of existential crisis will stay for several days.
Lehotský unlike great Austrian iconoclast does not try to shock per se as to construct
unfortunate destiny dipped in teenage naivety in a pity-triggering manner.
Lehotský channels collective feeling of young
generation, an image that should describe the actual state of affairs. Miracle
is a social realist drama by
content and form using social and economic background to paint rather unflattering
picture of the life of disillusioned generation in post-communist country. The
late Slovak films create a mental landscape of up-coming and already lost
generation in a sort of zeitgeist manifest while addressing the sore spots
analogous to Greek cinema where economic crisis and political turbulence did
cause an upheaval in national cinema while offering a peep-hole for outsiders.
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