Mother of asphalt
Screener avaliable upon request
Year of production: 2007
Duration: 108
Picture format: 16:9
Director: Dalibor Matanić
Screenplay: Dalibor Matanić, Tomislav Zajec
Cast: Mare Škaričić, Janko Popović-Volarić
Awards: 2011: Grand prix FIPA d"or-best movie, FIPA d"or-best female actor i FIPA d"or-best music
The holidays arent exactly merry and bright for the protags of "Mother of Asphalt," the uncharacteristically subtle sixth feature of Croatian filmmaker Dalibor Matanic ("Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside," "Fine Dead Girls"). The scribe-helmers first screenplay collaboration with local playwright and author Tomislav Zajec focuses on a small family drama rather than crime or bizarro outcasts, and is the helmers most subtle and satisfying pic to date -- even if it again runs a tad long. Beyond the Balkans, this is prime fest and broadcast fare that should travel roads far and wide. Initially, pic plays like "Scenes From a Marriage With a Kid," with thirtysomething hubby Janko (Janko Popovic-Volaric) listless and disinterested in his son, 7-year-old Bruno (Noa Nikolic), and wife, Mare (Marija Skaricic). He seems willing to make an effort only if sexual gratification is involved or if it will increase his standing with his buds -- such as the expensive Zagreb apartment the couple has just bought. Their marriage really starts to crumble when Mare is fired just before Christmas. When she refuses to sleep with Janko after an awkward dinner party, he hits her violently and unexpectedly, and Mare leaves, with Bruno in tow. She first lands at a girlfriends (Lana Baric), before the womans insensitive husband (Franjo Dijak) forces Mare out on the street, where she and the her son sleep in their car at night and aimlessly walk around Zagreb by day. She tells little Bruno theyre on an "adventure." Again, Matanic strong visual sense reinforces his storytelling, even if the real story here is much smaller and more intimate than in his previous pics. In the early reels, visual standouts include a handheld shot of Mare and Janko standing side-by-side during mass (suggesting theyre both looking for stability or guidance) but not looking at each other; and the sequence in which Janko beats Mare -- a wide shot in a dark room that shows the couples silhouettes framed against a