Dir/scr/ed: Rie Rasmussen. France-Albania. 2009. 110mins.
This strangely downbeat 2009 Panorama opener begins as a political drama which attempts to explore such weighty issues as Balkan war crimes and illegal immigration in the West only to turn very quickly into an oversexed thriller. First-time director Rie Rasmussen also produced, wrote and edited the film as well as playing the lead and it’s obvious she took on too much, starting out with something akin to Lorna’s Silence but ending up with a cross between Femme Fatale and Nikita.
There’s nothing wrong with that from a commercial perspective, however, and EuropaCorp’s clout should see it into theatres (at least in France) where its combination of sex and mayhem will attract an audience before quickly hitting the video shelves.
Half Albanian, half Serb Adria (Rasmussen) lives illegally in Marseilles where she runs into happy-go-lucky American Shawn (Corey). While she initially gives him the cold shoulder, soon they are ripping each others’ clothes off in a torrid and pretty explicit sex scene. But Adria lives in the past as much as she does in the present, and is constantly visited by flashbacks of atrocities back home in Kosovo, alongside her subsequent adventures with a fearless thug named Srdjan (Djuricko). He spreads death and destruction wherever he goes, but having saved Adria from a fate worse than death, treats her with a surprising amount of respect. Though neither one of the two periods has a real plot to speak of, they both provide generous amounts of lurid lowbrow titillation.
Adria is no angel: in Belgrade, she cruelly assaults a woman having sex with her boyfriend and then bites off his finger. In Marseilles, toting a gun, she shoots her way into a brothel run by the Russian mafia to extricate an Asian girl sold into sex slavery by her Arab boyfriend (earlier, she cut off two of his fingers).
Naturally, given the above, Shawn proposes to her and promises to wait until she gets out of prison.
Rasmussen’s script feels arbitrary, under-developed and shaky; the dialogue is, at best, declamatory. DoP Thierry Arbogast lets himself go at times with an orgy of kinky angles interspersed with long, languorous shots. Overall, it suggests a limited budget. The performances are equally skimpy. Rasmussen expresses distress by posing in a smouldering stance and mustering up a sexy pout while Nick Corey seems bemused by the thinly-sketched character he has to play. Nikola Djuricko, however, appears to thoroughly enjoy himself as the brutish Srdjan.
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