“The Constitution” by Rajko Grlić

By Lev Myshkin, November 13, 2017

Nebojsa Glogovac in the role of Vjeko Kralj

Nebojsa Glogovac in the role of Vjeko Kralj

Rajko Grlić's latest film "The Constitution" is excellent, profound and moving. Set in a building where the political tensions of former Yugoslavia are played out with a mixture of hatred, good grace, solidarity and bigotry. An intelligent movie that must be seen.

“A love story about hate” is the subtitle of Rajko Grlic’s film, set in an anonymous apartment block in a Croatian city.  Two families are brought together when Vjeko, a middle-aged Croatian school teacher who spends his days looking after his bedridden and embittered father and his nights dressed as a woman, is badly beaten by young neo-fascist thugs on the street. One of his neighbours is a nurse in the hospital where he is taken by the ambulance and she befriends the “Professor” and offers to assist him with the care of his father – in return she asks him to help her policeman husband to pass an exam he has to take  – for which he needs to memorise the Croatian Constitution.  Her husband Ante, is however a Serb, which leads to the emergence of long simmering hatred, racial prejudice and homophobic outbursts.

The story is told with great intelligence and subtlety. The acting is superb with a script (written by Rajko Grlic and his friend Ante Tomić) that intimates more than it reveals.  The three neighbours are brought together in a test of their humanity and sense of solidarity.

Special mention must go to the actor Nebojša Glogovac, whose performance is skillful, understated and profound. His seamless transitions between diffident intellectual and emotionally overwrought transvestite are excellent.

The film is simplicity itself, perhaps due to budgetary constraints but the end result is all the better for it.

Highly recommended – do not be surprised if this film makes an appearance at the Oscars ceremony.  It has already won Grand Prize of the Americas for Best Film (in the World Competition section) at the 40th Montreal World Film Festival.

 

 

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