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Friday, July 1, 2011

275. As If I Am Not There

    In 1988, Mrs W and I went on our honeymoon to Yugoslavia.
    The hospitality was wonderful and the scenery breathtaking.
    About five years ago we went back with our children for a family holiday. Little had changed.
    Yet between our two visits much of this land had become a hell hole.
    Juanita Wilson's film reminds us that in the not too distant past, in Europe, a war of horrific savagery took place.
    Men were turned into animals and, indeed, tried to turn their victims into animals.
    As If I Am Not There is based on a number of true stories and surrounds the horrors experienced and witnessed by a young school teacher played by Natasa Petrovic.
    She had recently moved to the country to take up a temporary post when forces arrived, shot all of the village's men and took the women away to a farm.
    There they were subjected to terrible sexual and psychological abuse.
    The first half of the film is a tough watch. The suffering of the women is almost tangible and the depravity of the monstrous men becomes worse and worse.
    Petrovic's character is then left with a dilemma. She believes her answer can help the cause of the other women and make life more comfortable for all of them.
    It leads her, however, to a ghastly compromise and awful personal consequences.
    This is Wilson's first feature and she deserves much congratulation for it.
    The power of the early part of the movie is incredible.
    However, it does lose its way near the end and she overdoes the use of silence.
    Sure, on the first few occasions it prompted contemplation but thereafter it had the effect of making the movie appear to drag.
    Nevertheless, Mrs W and I were considerably affected by As If I Am Not There and rate it at 7/10.
    I'm frankly staggered that it is only being shown at one cinema this weekend.
    Thanks to Element Pictures for sending me a copy from Ireland where the production team is based.

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275. As If I Am Not There

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