Trio on brink of adulthood
by Vladan Petkovic
- Memories and secrets of three former high-school friends on a road trip across Slovenia. An inventive, multiple award-winning road movie.
If the Sarajevo Film Festival can claim a real discovery from this year's edition, then it's definitely Nejc Gazvoda's A Trip. This low-budget road drama with only three protagonists uses a simple setting to tell a poignant story which tackles issues of youth, friendship, love, facing adulthood, and even touches on politics, capturing the zeitgeist of today’s Slovenia.
Seven years after they finished high school, three best friends reunite for a literal trip down the memory lane as they travel through Slovenia, revisiting their common past. The film opens with a hand-held shot of Gregor (Jure Henigman) flying a kite in a field by the road, as Ziva (Nina Rakovec) and Andrej (Luka Cimpric) arrive to pick him up. We learn that the tough-looking Gregor is home on leave from a stint in the armed forces in Afghanistan, that pretty and perky Ziva is preparing to continue her education abroad (although she's suspiciously misterious aboutit), and that chubby, cheerful gay Andrej is not doing much, too intelligent to respect either studying at the university or a regular day job.
The story develops through cleverly written dialogue as secrets from the past (and present) slowly float to the surface, filling what would at the first glance seem like an uneventful joyride by three young people on the brink of adulthood. Gazvoda, who's only 26 himself, manages to provide a real study of all three characters, never slipping into easy stereotypes.
The three characters complement each other and the idea that they were best friends in high school comes across as completely plausible and natural, as does the lingering attraction between Gregor and Ziva. The protagonists' difficult (and perhaps unwanted) transformation from one stage of life into another is presented convincingly and unobtrusively. Gregor has accepted the reality of adulthood and is "doing his job in Afghanistan", although he is clearly less sure of himself than he lets on, while Andrej understands that at some point he will have to conform to expectations of society and his own environment but is fighting it with cynicism. Ziva, on the other hand, has bigger fish to fry, as it will turn out.
The three actors are the film's strongest suit. Rakovec displays a wide range of emotions, fluctuating from fragility to strength and back. Heningman plays his not-so-tough soldier with a special flair for low-key approach, while Cimprič is the spiritus movens of the trio, with his neverending stream of politically incorrect jokes and cynical remarks- until the pivotal scene in which he casts off his shell in a devastating flood of emotion.
Gazvoda makes a fantastic use of locations and the Canon 7D evo PL54 camera (by Marko Brdar, who also lensed Vlado Skafar's Dad [+see also:
interview: Vlado Škafar
interview: Vlado Škafar
film profile]), particularly having in mind that a good portion of the proceedings takes place in a car. He manages to turn the confined space into an advantage, and shots of Slovenia's natural beauty help to open up the film at crucial points. The music by electronic duo New Wave Syria fits perfectly with inventive editing by Gazvoda and Janez Lapajne.
Produced by Ljubljana-based Perfo with the budget of only €180,000, A Trip is very refreshing.