Written by Taylor Baker
Otac or rather Father, is a story that is best experienced without spoilers so I’ll be careful about what I mention in my assessments.
Srdan Golubovic serves as co-writer and director of a film I can only describe as a brooding on circumstance in modern Serbia. As one who is entirely unfamiliar with their contemporary issues on a global or local level found in Serbia, I can only make assessments off of the material here. And that material is notably stark. This is a film in which a dog getting hit by a car, a woman self immolating, and neighbors stealing from one another is simply a back drop. It’s center is Nikola, the titular Otac meaning Father.
Through complex circumstance I won’t go into here, Nikola’s children are taken from him by the government. Instigating a road movie, that has no cars. But rather a laborious walk in poor health through a brutal and somewhat if not entirely hopeless feeling landscape. With the only constant being signs to Belgrade. Where he will petition the Minister for his children.
Goran Bogdan, the actor bringing us the unshakeable Nikola is wearying to simply witness. His eyes, and labored breathing signal a sadness and exhaustion that is at best disabling and at worst fatal. His journey, solidity, and dignity are remarkable. This isn’t a film that sears itself into you, more a yolk of something great that you’ll carry with you. Likely mentioning it with a timid fondness to others and feeling disappointed that they haven’t seen it’s stark depiction of life in Serbia themselves.
–Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 10/06/20
Otac is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 line up.
VIFF Website: https://www.viff.org/Online/