The Elegy of the Laurel - review: A laurel grew under the stone. Laurel is now far from the stone.

The Elegy of the Laurel is the debut feature film of the young Montenegrin director Dušan Kasalica

The Elegy of the Laurel is the debut feature film of the young Montenegrin director Dušan Kasalica, which will have its world premiere in the main competition program of this year's edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival. Elegy of the Laurel ’was part of the Sarajevo Film Festival three years ago with its participation in the CineLink Industry Days platform, while director Dušan Kasalica in previous years, with his short films, won the Heart of Sarajevo Award and the Special Jury Award.


In this film, the polished university professor Filip (Frano Lasić) goes on vacation with his wife (Savina Geršak). After a few days spent in a monotonous spa setting, their seemingly ideal marriage ends and Filip tries to collect the shards of life, dealing confidently and arrogantly with all obstacles, but after realizing that he has failed both as a husband and as a father and as a professor, he runs away, to the village, where he meets his mother and falls in love with a girl he takes out of a snake.


The film opens with a long static shot of a view through the cave, accompanied by the sound of a roar, which tells us at the beginning that this is not the form we are used to and that the director will bravely break all the rules he ever learned at the academy, through quicksand, recapitulating one’s own life decisions. The introductory song that opens the film tells us that the music will lead this story and fill the gaps caused by the lack of action and brief dialogues between the protagonists who built the characterization based on their attitude and behavior.


The Overman returns to the mountain

Filip immediately establishes dominance and through the triple structure of the film, moving from the spa to the city and from the city to the forest he tries to maintain it. He is arrogant, self-confident, understands philosophy and technology, thinks he knows what others feel and what they need. He is convinced that his wife is happy with him, and concerning his daughter, who is developed through several monologues because we do not hear her, he imposes himself as Penaeus who obeyed his daughter and turned her into a laurel, while fleeing from Apollo who tried to conquer it, and then Apollo used his powers and granted laurel eternal youth and immortality. The truth is that she ignores him and only calls him when he calls her. In public life, Filip is an Ubermensch, he even mentions Nietzsche in conversations with strangers, to demonstrate his academic status, which also withdraws his social status.


Although he says that death is a transient disease and that it is impossible to feel comfortable in the spa since there are sick people around, he enjoys it because leaving is his decision and everyone around is subordinate to her until his wife decides to leave him. However, even then he does not question his actions but treats the situation very arrogantly, but at one point, instead of Zarathustra coming down from the hill, he returns to the village, through a very interesting transition, from the classroom and a lesson about Zagorje village. where the film breaks down because it’s easier to believe a fairy tale than life’s failures.


There he is greeted by a snake which helps him to turn into a girl, he, Filip, omniscient and sinless falls under her influence, without the mediator Eve. Playful with her youth, Filip completely submits to her. Before her, Filip met another young girl, who was clumsily introduced and whose role is not fully clarified, except that there is a strong distinction of the character of a young snake woman, because of which Filip will be ready to give up his mother and everything else he has.


Lapis lazuli, inspiration and hope

An intriguing segment in the film is the introduction of the hit Baby Doll from 1983, Lapis Lazulli. In addition to the song bursting with love, intrigue, and contempt, we can assume that it is generationally important to the main protagonist, and the lapis lazuli stone itself is a metamorphic rock, which in 1814 was worth more than its weight in gold and is the most expensive color of all time. In addition, the stone possesses sensuality, an aphrodisiac property, gives a sense of confidence and truth. All that Filip is, or wanted to be.


Laurel Elegy is not a film that will be watched by the masses and will experience a dizzying number of cinema broadcasts, but it is a very daring and skillful film by director Kasalica, who came out of the comfort zone and put something completely new and unusual on the screen, with beautiful photography and excellent sound and music. If I were to think about the idea of this film, I would say that the author was dreaming something.

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