Modris: A boxer nose that rebels against the world
by Camillo De Marco
- With a very mobile camera, director Juris Kursietis offers us a true story that measures the minimum of human relationships
Riga, Latvia. Even here, like in so many other places in the world, social unrest leads young people to alcohol, to compulsive gambling. Modris, the protagonist of the homonymous film in competition at the Bergamo Film Meeting, is one of them: every coin is good to put in a slot machine. Lying, stealing, all useful ways of getting hypnotised by the slot machines. In an illusion of light-heartedness we observe at the beginning of the film this 17-year-old - played by a surprising Kristers Piksa - leave a bar with his girlfriend. However, a very tall camera dolly reveals a snow-covered city composed of large grey tower blocks in an ashen light that forebodes imminent tragedy.
"You’ll end up like your father," says his mother (Rezija Kalnina). And Modris in response robs her stove in order to sell it off to a stolen goods dealer for a few lats (since 1 January 2015 the currency in Latvia has been the euro). But this time, his mother wants to teach him a real lesson, and calls the police. She doesn’t imagine what the consequences of her extreme maternal attempt to recover a son who desperately lacks a father figure will be.
With a very mobile camera, director Juris Kursietis offers with Modris [+see also:
film profile] a true story – told to him by a lawyer friend – that measures the minimum terms that human relationships have reached. Only those who do the right thing, only those who have money are safe.
Kursietis worked for years as a foreign correspondent for Latvian TV and studied direction in Sheffield in England, to later direct TV ads and documentaries (Hackers is from 2010). This fiction feature debut (co-produced with Germany and Greece) behaves just like a fiction documentary: topical social issues dealt with using film methods.
Maybe using a few clichés to better illustrate things. The distance between a dysfunctional lifestyle and that of a normal family is all in the scene in which Modris’ girlfriend invites him home to celebrate her 17th birthday, where her Bourgeois parents are discussing the type of books that young people read. In the meantime a delicate tree in bloom drawn on a wall tells us that the boy has a gentle soul, even if it’s an act of vandalism. In the end, the story’s credibility and the young actor’s brazen boxer nose (that the Dardenne brothers would like in one of their films) triumph on all fronts.
(Translated from Italian)