Irresistible charm of adultery
FEDEORA jury prize for the best film of the 57th Pula Film Festival
Just Between Us, directed by Rajko Grlic, cast: Predrag Miki Manojlovic, Bojan Navojec, Ksenija Marinkovic, Daria Lorenci, Nataša Dorcic… Duration: 87 minutes
A very good film. Rajko Grlic is enthusiastic and vivacious, like a young man. And playful, like a middle-aged cunning fellow with plenty of experience. His own or someone else’s – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that what we can see in the film Just Between Us is so intimate and authentic that we believe his every word and his every frame.
Furthermore, Just Between Us moves somewhere along the lines of Grlić’s most successful films – The Melody Haunts My Memory, Three For Happiness and particularly In the Jaws of Life (Stefica Cvek in the Jaws of Life), the film that could easily find its sequel in this film. And what a sequel!
Together with Ante Tomic, Grlic wrote a bittersweet urban story with elements of benevolent satire centred on two brothers, their present and ex wives, their lovers and casual relationships, their children – the existing ones and the ones to be born. Everything is mixed up in those double and parallel relationships, motivated by tireless human search for love and happiness and all the things that, unfortunately, only exist in novels.
Grlic frees marriage and marital relations from moral codes and grand ideas and depicts adultery as an integral part of life and the usual tragicomedy of life. The film is set in today’s Zagreb, among the so-called upper-middle class, but Grlic’s film does not insist on social or class classifications. The spotlight is reserved for passion and lust, which never die out, and sexual adventurism (the film really is about that), present also in smaller urban communities. It is also pleasing that Grlić respects gender equality – both male and female characters demonstrate a tendency for this kind of adventurism, of course, more or less successfully. Let’s be honest – it is just like that in real life. Lust is not only reserved for men.
Scenes of adultery and passionate love encounters are explicit and erotic, both acting and cinematography are exquisite (the director of photography Slobodan Trninic, as well as the editor Andrija Zafranovic made a considerable contribution), the impression is that you are peeking through a keyhole. In psychological terms the five protagonists and their relations are well elaborated. Every question has its answer and a very credible one.
The incoherence of an adulterer is ingeniously built from those petty, transparent everyday lies and truths avoided, business trips or getting some lettuce at the market… The cast brings to all of this an anthological dose of persuasiveness.
Miki Manojlovic as a well-off, middle-aged Nikola, natural-born and raised to be a womanizer (in the time of the “war of independence” he went to the U.S. and all other characters pay, financially, for his discretely guilty conscience), who fights old age and a threatening illness with incredible sexual enthusiasm and “horny charm”, is absolutely incredible – adorable! Bojan Navojec portraying the somewhat envious Braco, a poor teacher, Nikola’s younger and less successful brother when it comes to women, is a strong character who bears the plot and with his first blow also strikes his final one, closing the circle of family deceptions and lies. Ksenija Marinković as Braco’s wife Marta (Nikola’s onetime girlfriend) who projects her erotic lust on younger “studs” – is phenomenal, while Daria Lorenci, as Nikola’s wife Anamaria, and Nataša Dorcic, as Nikola’s lover Latica with whom he has a child, are so immersed in their characters that by watching them, you forget you are watching a film.
Does Grlic’s film insult the good taste of puritans and those who believe in marriage? Come on, please, show me one person who has not committed adultery at least in their dreams! If you claim otherwise, then you’re a real hypocrite. And Grlic dedicated this film to hypocrites. Does it insult women? Nonsense! I guess you have seen Sex and the City. Does it blaspheme God? Probably, but that’s not my field of interest and neither is it Grlic’s. This problem can be addressed by those who are being arrested for abusing children in churches…
First of all, Grlic’s film is dedicated to middle-aged men and women with a message that they don’t give up that easily and as such it will have a therapeutic effect on all those who would like to give up before time. Of course, it is not desirable to take small children with you to the cinema because you don’t want to end up answering questions like “What’s uncle Miki doing to that lady?”. If Rajko Grlic is truly such a “bad boy”, than I would like to take him with me to a deserted island. There, he wouldn’t have anyone to cheat on me with. And it would all be just between us.