Dir: Andrea Staka. Switzerland-Croatia-Bosnia/Herzegovina. 83mins
Andrea Štaka’s enigmatic and artistically complex film is in the end all about interpretation…both how the characters interpret the actions of those around them and how the audience interprets what they see on screen. There are striking images, thoughtful performances and a gentle delve into politics, but in the end Cure - The Life Of Another may be too obtuse to match the Locarno success of her debut feature Fraulein, which won the Golden Leopard in 2006.
The film has some striking images and some thoughtful performances, particularly by young Sylvie Marinković as a young woman on the cusp confused sexuality and identity, struggling to come to terms about what had happened.
Supposedly based on a ‘true story’, Štaka uses a dramatic ‘incident’ as the jumping off point to dwell on an imaginary life that sits alongside that of the main character as she tries to deal with both guilt and confusion all set against the backdrop of Dubrovnik at the time of the Balkan war. What gives the film its heart is the striking lead performance by Sylvie Marinković in her film debut, who was just 14 when the film was shot.
She plays Linda, who has moved from Switzerland to be with her father, a doctor in Dubrovnik. She is ‘adopted’ by school friend Eta (Lucia Radulovic) who longs to escape from the confines of the small town on the Adriatic Sea, and acts as a coach for Linda’s behaviour in the new environment, with the pair swapping crude phrases and discussing their sexual dalliances.
One day the pair take a walk in woods next to the stark Cliffside. Playfully they exchange clothes, with Eta pushing their relationship by kissing Linda. They argue about Ivo, a motorcycle riding young man Eta is interested in, with their argument leading to a scuffle and Eta falling to her death. Linda confesses to police that she pushed Eta – though the police refuse to accept her admission – and while the film is enigmatic if she did actually push Eta, certainly Linda believes that, with the exchange of clothing morphing into an exchange of roles.
As Linda slowly takes the place of Eta in Eta’s family, bonding with her grandmother and eventually also winning over her mother. Having found Eta’s diary after her death she uses it as a roadmap, evening replacing Eta in Ivo’s uncomfortable affections…until she tells him what really happened.
There are no easy answers in Cure - The Life Of Another, with everything up for interpretation. The film has some striking images – particularly a shot of Linda and Ida back-to-back with their long hair platted together, indicating how dangerously united they are – and some thoughtful performances, particularly by young Sylvie Marinković as a young woman on the cusp confused sexuality and identity, struggling to come to terms about what had happened.
Production companies: Okofilm Productions, Živa Produkcija
International sales: Okofilm Productions, www.okofilm.com
Producer: Thomas Imbach
Screenplay: Andrea Štaka, Thomas Imbach
Cinematography: Martin Gschlacht
Editor: Tom La Belle
Production designer: Su Erdt
Music: Milica Paranosić
Main cast: Sylvie Marinković, Lucia Radulović, Marija Škaričic, Mirjana Karanović, Leon Lučev, Franjo Dijak