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‘Kaymak’ Milcho Manchevski Review Tokyo – The Hollywood Reporter


The 1994 feature film debut of Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski, Before the rain, is a powerful and artistic depiction of the violent ethnic conflicts tearing apart his homeland. The film, which premiered in Venice, took home the Golden Lion and was nominated for an Academy Award, turning Manchevski into a formidable artistic talent overnight.

That happened more than twenty years ago, and in the decades that followed, the director never finished his first film well, completing a handful of films that were either festival-played or limited-release – best of them, 2019 Willowwon several awards and was selected for distribution by Kino Lorber – but failed to generate general enthusiasm.

Kayaking

Key point

Neither subtle nor sultry.

Location: Tokyo International Film Festival (Competition)
Cast: Sara Klimoska, Kamka Tocinovski, Aleksander Mikic, Simone Spirovska, Ana Stojanovska, Filip Trajkovikj
Director and screenwriter: Milcho Manchevski

1 hour 46 minutes

His latest work, the dazzling and dazzling dramady Kayaking, seems destined for the same fate. Entertaining to a degree, but also excessive and a bit ridiculous, the film follows two Macedonian couples living in the same apartment house in the nation’s capital Skopje.

Coming from different walks of life, the couples barely cross the street except when they’re shouting at each other out the window. But what they do have in common is that they’re both in the midst of mid-life crises that lead to lots of sex, a bit of violence, and a lot of the movie’s main dish – a cheeseburger. Turkey is sweet and creamy – bought, consumed and even spread on naked flesh.

Manchevski clearly wanted his film to have the same light and engaging consistency, but his humor was too heavy and his gender politics were shaken, even when female characters dominated the film. story. There are also some sex scenes that aren’t overly sexy, giving the film a vulgar aspect and lack of widespread appeal. After competing in the main tournament in Tokyo, it is unlikely to go far.

The scenario with an upstairs/downstairs split is curious at first, though Manchevski never gets it anywhere: In the building’s fabulous penthouse, wealthy banker Eva (Kamka Tocinovski) ) and her unemployed husband Metodi (Filip Trajkovikj), who has everything for them except for their inability to get pregnant. They agree to hire a young relative from the countryside, Dosta (Sara Klimoska), as a surrogate mother, but their family situation turns upside down when Dosta wants to play more of a role in her life. smaller than Eva wanted. give her.

Meanwhile, the cramped ground-floor apartment is occupied by working-class couple Caramba (Aleksander Mikic) and Danche (Simona Spirovska). He is an elderly security guard at the bank where Eva works, and she works in a bakery. Their relationship is clearly on fritz, but that all changes when Caramba begins to have an affair with local grocer – and kaymak seller – Violetka (Ana Stojanovska), who gradually turns the couple into a happy, joyful trio, if only temporarily.

The film goes back and forth between the two trios, who rarely interact until a deadly encounter at the end. Manchevski used a similar method in his previous work, following characters whose fates intertwine at different points in the same story, allowing him to tackle a single theme – for example. such as the effect of the Yugoslav War on Macedonia (now officially known as North Macedonia) in Before the rain – from many different angles.

But here the method doesn’t have the same dramatic effect as in the director’s debut, with each trio reaching unusual levels of hysteria as sexual and marital tensions flare up.

Eva’s arrival, after her plan to have a baby at all costs backfired on her, is both predictable and overripe, especially when she pees in public during a nervous breakdown. The group’s naughty antics downstairs couldn’t be more appealing, with Caramba soon being left behind as the two women in his life fell madly in love. He ended up transforming into their humiliated valet, bringing them coffee with nothing but an apron, and giving us a little wiggle in the process. Seriously, who wants to see that?

Manchevski seems to be commenting on how the needs of individuals and couples are forever in conflict, but his observations often stop at the level of caricature. Applying some of the stylistic equipment found in his other films – oversaturated colors, immersive handheld cameras, lots of cutscenes between stories – he never managed to turn around. Kayaking into an attractive relationship. Despite all the sex, domestic drama, and at least one eventual death, the final film still feels like an anecdote – a small piece of work by a director who once brought them to life. me something big.

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