There is a part of me that feels sorry for Srdjan Spasojevic. He has, you see, just created a debut film that will linger in infamy. No matter what lies in the future for Spasojevic he will always be the director of A Serbian Film and that may prove a difficult mantle to bear. A Serbian Film is one of the most incredibly raw and transgressive films I have ever seen. This is a film that left me feeling dirty and assaulted, a film that will surely spark protest and deservedly so. A film that contains a flurry of genuinely shocking imagery sure to spark genuine horror and revulsion from its audience. Spasojevic is always going to be the man responsible for that film.
There is, however, another part of my that feels an overwhelming admiration for Spasojevic and what he has done here. A Serbian Film is one of the most assured and technically accomplished debut films I have come across in some time. More importantly as raw as the imagery may be it is never without a point. As extreme as it gets this is no mere exploitation film. No, this is a satire as sharp and pointed and genuinely shocking as was Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal was when it first appeared on the scene suggesting that the poor sell their children as food. A Serbian Film is an astoundingly bold piece of work one that will not just trigger a firestorm of criticism - any fool with bad taste can do that - but one that also has the substance and purpose to withstand it. And Spasojevic is always going to be the man responsible for that film.
An angry deconstruction of the cycles of violence that have crossed over generations and ravaged Serbia's recent history, A Serbian Film revolves around Milosh - family man and semi-retired porn star. He tries to lead a normal life but time are hard and he knows only one way to provide for his young family so when money runs tight Milosh takes on the occasional job to make ends meet. Little does he know that one of these jobs will be his undoing.
A former colleague comes to Milosh with a proposal. A change is coming. A way out of the cheap trash he's been starring in to make ends meet. There's a new player on the market. a well-financed creator of art-porn. Very well financed. And very well paying. And he is a fan of Milosh's work. One job for him and Milosh could removed the 'semi' from 'semi-retired'. The only catch being that he will never know what the film is about. He will never see a script. He will simply have to react to whatever scenario the director places him in.
And the scenarios are dark indeed. Rape fantasy is just the beginning. The blending of sex and violence here is troubling in the extreme, the extremes the porn director willing to go to to provide his audience a voyeuristic thrill absolutely sickening. There is no depravity, only profit, and damn the human cost.
As Milosh descends into madness Spasojevic tracks his descent with an unwavering eye. Though he shows less than he makes you think he does, Spasojevic's work is graphic in the extreme and graphic in ways that will turn the stomach. He employs his considerable technical skills in an all-out assault of his audience. This is a film meant to punish, not to entertain, and it succeeds absolutely. It is genuinely sickening and that is entirely the point. An enjoyable experience? I sincerely hope not. But incredibly powerful, Just don't bring your mother.
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