For Reel


Before the Rain (1994)
July 30, 2016, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Milcho Manchevski
2.5 Stars
Before the RainBefore the Rain was a great success upon its release in 1994, winning the grand prize at the Venice Film Festival and earning an Academy Award nomination. It is undoubtedly a stylish, clever triptych of stories concerning the cycle of violence, but its contemporary importance at the time of release was likely what bloated its reputation. Director Milcho Manchevski is a man of images first and a humanist second—in this chilling film about ethnic conflict and war, one is prompted to gawk at the impeccable landscapes and exceedingly handsome, sexualized cast. Rather than creating connections between the stories through the specific struggles of the characters involved, the film relies on the superficial things that bring them together, such as the presence of a repeated song. Ian Christie provides a compelling argument suggesting the influence of westerns on the film—when Rade Serbedzija is framed through a doorway, with the sun and a lone tree cast as silhouettes in the background, the image looks like a mythic shot from a Sam Peckinpah or John Ford film—but the way Manchevski sensationalizes the violence (including a cat bouncing through the air in a stream of bullets) seems inappropriate for the material. None of this is to say that aesthetic ambition and political messages are mutually exclusive, but Manchevski over-stylizes nearly every element of the film, drowning the timeliness of his message in a heavy-handed, emotionally disengaging aesthetic.

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