Review: The Wounds (1998)

The Wounds

The Wounds

Rating

Director

Srdjan Dragojevic

Screenplay

Srdjan Dragojevic

Length

1h 43m

Starring

Dusan Pekic, Milan Maric, Dragan Bjelogrlic, Branka Katic, Miki Manojlovic, Gorica Popovic, Vesna Trivalic, Andreja Jovanovic, Nikola Kojo, Zora Manojlovic

MPAA Rating

Unrated

Buy/Rent Movie

Review

PREFACE:
In the early 2000s, I was writing reviews for an outfit called Apollo Guide Reviews. That website has since been closed down.

Attempting to reconstruct those reviews has been an exercise in frustration. Having sent them to Apollo Guide via email on a server I no longer have access to (and which probably doesn’t have records going back that far), my only option was to dig through The Wayback Machine to see if I could find them there. Unfortunately, while I found a number of reviews, a handful of them have disappeared into the ether. At this point, almost two decades later, it is rather unlikely that I will find them again.

Luckily, I was able to locate my original review of this particular film. Please note that I was not doing my own editing at the time, Apollo Guide was. As such, there may be more than your standard number of grammatical and spelling errors in this review. In an attempt to preserve what my style had been like back then, I am not re-editing these reviews, which are presented as-is.

REVIEW:
Growing up in a war-torn country has obvious disadvantages and advantages – of a sort. The advantage – for those so inclined – is that they can commit crimes, even murder, without much risk of consequences. The disadvantages are more universal, and include the fact that you’re robbed of your humanity.

The Wounds is a Serbo-Croatian film about two youths who profit from drugs, larceny and murder without apparent consequence. The story begins in 1996, where childhood buddies Pinki (Dusan Pekic) and Kraut (Milan Maric) drive through a street celebration in which fantasy figures – some of which are symbolic portents of what is to come – dance about, unaware of the desperate figures in the car before them.

In flashback, we are reacquainted with Pinki and Kraut pitching rocks at their friend Dijabola (Andreia Jovanovic) and calling out epithets about his Croatian lineage. We are shown their predisposition to violence because of the war and because of their fragile existence. They meet Ludi (Dragan Bjelogrlic), a war profiteer who teaches them crime and violence as a means to personal advancement, regardless of family and neighbours.

Violence is their way of life and unfortunately, it’s what suits them best. Srdjan Dragojevic, director of the critically acclaimed film Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, brings a perverse light to this simple, yet profound story. There are numerous parallels that can be drawn to other gripping films. Trainspotting is one of the most obvious influences, as the dialogue, style and overall atmosphere of this film and its characters are reminiscent of the unabashed nature of Trainspotting.

One scene, a fantasy about life as a soldier is entirely in black and white except for splashes of red that are imposed on the image in macabre and symbolic ways. This is reminiscent of a little girl in a pink coat in Schindler’s List, used as a symbol of innocence in a violent world.

There are also moments here that are reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. Maric bears a strange likeness to Malcolm McDowell, both physical and in behaviour. The Wounds, like Clockwork Orange, suggests that we are products of our environment.

The unfortunate aspect of this film is that its violence is often too fantastic – even dream-like – which distracts from its attempts at portraying the grim reality of the Balkans. On top of that, Pekic never really claims the character he’s playing. He manages to remain static throughout the film, despite the importance of the audience witnessing his metamorphosis.

It’s not enough to show us the realities of war. The Wounds goes further, and for that it deserves credit. This excellent film doesn’t flinch until the end, where it unfortunately resorts to a clichéd conclusion.

Review Written

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