Isaac @ Slamdance

Slamdance 2021 is done, but here is one more review…

Film noir by Jurgis Matulevicius (first feature film) done in a style which harkens back to Soviet films of that era. The story centers around the murder of a Jew in which the affects are felt for quite a time.

The year is 1940 and we are at the beginning months of World War II. At this time the Soviet Union takes Lithuania and begins a huge deportation of Lithuanians to Serbia.

Fast forward to 1941 and things have changed as Lithuania is now being occupied by the Germans. The Nazis have pretty much wiped out the entire population of Lithuanian Jews. Falling sway to the very effective Nazi propaganda, this massacre/genocide is aided by several thousand Lithuanians.

One such instance happens in 1941 when activist Andrius Gluosnis (Aleksas Kazanavicius – Back to Your Arms, Owl Mountain) kills a Jew named Isaac (Dainius Kazlauskas – Invisible, Farewell) during a massacre which took place in a garage in Lietukis. The guilt over this act haunts Gluosnis for years.

As the end of World War II is on the horizon in 1945 the Soviet retake possession of Lithuania. They then start an investigation into the country’s citizens who committed war crimes by helping the Nazis round up and kill Jews. All the while, the Soviets continue to deport Lithuanians no matter their ethnicity.

Based on a short story by Antanas Skema, the film plays like a trip into the past and an examination of people’s actions and the repercussions. Also, how two friends have different reactions to what is going on between them can cause a separation.

The horror and trauma of war is looked at from a slightly different angle here. Terrible enough on its own when you add in exile, love for the same woman and how people from the same area can react differently to what is going on, you have quite a difficult stew.

A thriller that involves a murder which occurs during war time. Then a film is being developped based on the story surrounding the murder. Two friends being torn apart. Even though the viewer was not involved in the war it still draws you in with its moral questions and how the human behaviour portrayed is universally relatable.

It is a film which requires concentration. If your attention wanders for any amount of time you might find yourself lost when you return to it. Time does not occur in a linear fashion here, rather we jump all around. World War II to Cold War era. Keep your eyes and brain involved!

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