Consequences

It’s “coming out” (bad pun, I know) party was at last year’s TIFF. Nice exposure for a small film from Slovenia. The buzz it created in Toronto was all positive. This, in part, has earned the film a wider release now in select theatres in the United States. Small steps are being made.

What has to be noted about the film right off the top is that it is the first LGBTQ film from that country. Hard to believe that is the case in the year 2018 (now 2019). We forget that the rights we have as humans is not right across the globe. As difficult it is to be queer in North America, it is even more so in most other places around the world.

For his debut film director Darko Stante has made what he knows. Consequences is based on his experience working with youth in detention centres. This is a coming of age film – one in which a 17-year-old male has to deal with coming to terms with who he is and his sexuality.

Andrej (Matej Zemljic – first film) is getting into trouble. More than your typical teenage rebellion, anyways. His parents, mostly his mother, are at the end of their rope. They have called the justice system in for help. As such, Andrej has been sentenced by a judge to spend time in a youth correctional facility. If he doesn’t smarten up the next step is jail.

Now, even though most of us reading this or watching the film have not been to jail we have all watched enough television or films to know that jails or correctional facilities are not fun places to be. It is a petry dish of Darwin’s survival of the fittest with violence being the currency for power. It becomes a cesspool of hyper masculinity. Not really a place of rehabilitation.

Andrej, after he stands up to some physical aggressions, wins the favour of the facility’s top dog, Zeljko. Zeljko brings Andrej into his gang of hoods. Though he would never admit it, this sort of companionship is exactly what Andrej has been looking for. He yearns to be one of the guys, though secretly he is attracted to Zeljko.

Instead of righting his ship, Andrej spirals downward into sex, drugs and violence. Zeljko uses all three to control Andrej. At a certain point the teenager has to decide whether this is the life he wants to live and whether he wants to be truthful about who he truly is – a gay young man.

Violence hovers over almost every minute and frame of this just over 80 minute film. Tension is raised as a result. Though, again, this is not a world many of us, thankfully, exist in, it all seems rather realistic.

Slovenia is a democracy, but a rather conservative one. Homosexuality is not widely accepted. As such, there have been no previous films produced there about or involving it. Gay rights face that peril. They are restricted as a result. Gay youths do not see themselves up on the screen and as such most choose to remain in the closet or involved in dangerous activity. The issues and emotions Consequences brings up confronts that head on. Demanding that gay rights be seen as human rights.

The scenes towards the end of the film after Andrej has been outed as gay are strong ones. He has no where to turn. Even those in the facility he was previously friendly with turn on him now that they know he is gay. The hypocrisy of it all is that one of the people he has slept with is the uber masculine Zeljko (Timon Sturbej). He probably does not identify as queer as he only engages in the activity when he is drunk and on drugs. Even Andrej’s mom rejects him once she finds out. Being gay to her is worse than being on drugs and violent. Sad! Telling him to never come back if he is going to be like that. Powerful and heartbreaking. Andrej now has no where to turn.

Toxic masculinity has claimed another victim. Or so we are led to believe with the open ended ending of the film. Andrej has be “revealed” and he is completely abandoned. Even the fellow detainee he had turned to for some sort of affection has not engineered his downfall. Betrayed him. Used what Andrej himself is in the process of coming to terms with against him. Everything is confusing.

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