Vis-à-vis: Cinema as the Mirror of Life and Inversely
by Domenico La Porta
- Produced without budget, without script, but with an indisputable talent, Vis-à-vis was one of the excellent surprises in the national competition of the 60th Festival of Pula.
Produced without budget, without script, but with an indisputable talent for the story-within-a-story style of narration, for the mise-en-scène, and for the direction of actors, Vis-à-vis is one of the excellent surprises in the national competition of the 60th International Film Festival of Pula.
Placing its director, Nevio Marasovic, between Woody Allen and the Croatian Alexander Payne, sets up a style very much influenced by the American Indie, and a relaxing approach to cinema that passes by the bittersweet comedy, lulled by Andrew Bird’s melodies, active participants in the narration.
With the complicity of his producer, Danijel Pek, and that of a small team that also includes the two main actors (Darija Lorenci and Rakan Rushaidat), Marasovic constructs an introspective relation composed of mise en abyme and games of mirrors. The biographical dimension of the plot is evident. It deals with a young director (Rushaidat) who tries to make his first film, “Comic Sans”, entirely based on his own story. The artist exiles himself to Vis Island with his main actor (Lorenci) to work on the character and rewrite, yet again, the script, considered too long by some, inconsistent by others. Among the critics is a renowned actor, cornerstone to the funding of “Comic Sans” and performed by the excellent Krešimir Mikić (The Priest's Children), essential star of Croatian cinema who brings a likeable contribution to the film. How to carve out in a script when each cut is an ablation in one’s own story? The dilemma is painful, symbolised by sequences where the director smokes nervously, facing the blackboard where he has linked the confused elements of his script — his life — in the manner of a mathematical problem.
Complex in many a level, Vis-à-vis remains simple in the story it tells. When the two men settle in the familial house on the island, they come to know each other and mutually exhume their own demons, which the film in construction is supposed to exorcise. Instead of taking the easy path to redemption, Marasovic remains intimate, full of cynical poetry, and intelligently talkative, while criticising his own writing as when, for example, the actors discuss the length of the monologues in the script of “Comic Sans”.
One could say that for Marasovic, The Show Must Go On and Vis-à-vis is not only a second feature given that he will follow up with the concretisation of Comic Sans, the script that is the subject of Vis-à-vis. Rare are the directors who can boast of such an eloquent teaser for a project that we already impatiently await.
(Translated from French)