The Serbian film A Serbian Film is violent porn about violent porn. There’s some suggestion that it’s also, subtextually, about the guilty agony that haunts the Serbian soul in the wake of the horrors & atrocities of the Milosevic era, but this comes out in hints & oblique references, on the margins of the movie, so to speak. At bottom, A Serbian Film is a cautionary Grand Guignol shocker about how commercial sex can turn into savagery.
MADCAP Theatres by the Midnite Movie Mamacita, centers on porn-movie stud Milos, played by Srdan Todorovic, who resembles a cross between the young Tim Roth & the very young Mickey Rourke. A little long in the tooth for the raunch game, Milos has retired to live quietly with his gorgeous wife (Jelena Gavrilovic) & young son, but, like a bank robber in a caper movie, he’s coaxed out of retirement by an old colleague for one last big score.
Bad move. The gig in question is a film produced by a manic, big-talking hustler called Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) who insists that he’s going to turn porn into art. He won’t tell Milos what the film’s about, but he makes him a financial offer he can’t refuse. A couple of days into the shoot, Milos finds himself drugged & participating in snuff, rape & other revolting outrages, including some involving, let’s just say, minors.
I’m not going to try to tell you that I’m too cool to be shocked by A Serbian Film, or that I “enjoyed” it in the usual sense of that word. It’s a sickeningly brutal story, & the brutality is by no means free of prurience.
But there’s also no denying that it’s an intelligently-structured, well-acted, gripping piece of work. For the first half-hour, before the depravities of Vukmir’s project become clear, it even has a certain joyless, cold-fish eroticism, and a chilly Balkan wit. As the story progresses, it becomes more fractured & dreamlike, but director & co-writer Srdan Spasojevic doesn’t use this as an excuse for lack of clarity or pace.
At a certain point, though, I hit the wall. I stopped caring about the fate of poor hapless Milos, & while I suppose I wanted to see the loathsome Vukmir punished, what I really wanted was for the movie to be over. In the last ten minutes or so, when the story tumbles over into a frenzied, blood-splattered massacre, it finally became impossible to take it seriously, & I found it a relief.