like the Love Boat or Fantasy Island, except this Adriatic resort caters to a
dumber, hornier clientele. Naturally, it is the perfect spot for a precariously
pregnant woman to chill out for a week or two, until she runs into her former
lesbian lover. Things get very triangular in Jasmila Žbanić’s Love Island (trailer here), which screens
during this year’s Frameline in San Francisco.
Island is your basic shticky
LGBTQ-friendly farce, but it is notable for the people involved. Believe it or
not, it was directed by Žbanić, whose last film was the dramatized documentary For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, about
an Australian performance artist’s investigation of the war crimes that were perpetrated
at a hotel she unwittingly stayed in. It
stars Ermin Bravo, who previously appeared in Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey as well
as Danis Tanović’s short film Baggage and
his feature Cirkus Columbia, alongside
Ariane Labed (best known for demanding Greek films like Alps and The Capsule) and
Ada Condeescu (who didn’t get much opportunity for comedy in Romanian New Wave
films, such as Loverboy and If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle). Yet here
they all are, determined to distract us with sweet nothings.
a way, it is a rather happy development to see a Bosnian film going for
crowd-pleasing laughs rather than cathartically analyzing the war’s lingering wounds
once more. Perhaps it represents a healthy corner turned, but there is still
the film to deal with and it’s a mugging, shameless parade of clichés.
Grebo is an amiable working class buffoon who is indeed taking his
mega-preggers French wife Liliane on their long planned Croatian vacation, even
though we can tell from one look she will be delivering late in the third act.
The schlubby former rocker still fancies himself a ladies man, so he briefly
entertains thoughts of some side action with Flora, the scuba instructor with
the hot bod. Turns out Flora has different ideas. She wants to win back her former
lover, Liliane. Grebo will need some help to stay in contention, finding an
ally in the resort’s cover band vocalist, Stipica, who inexplicably fancies the
lug himself. Oh, the complications. Where’s Gopher and Isaac when we need them?
Island was a crowd pleaser at this
year’s Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival. Perhaps it is gratifying for its domestic
audience to see Balkan characters making love rather than war. If they enjoy it,
more power to them, but for regular festival-going cineastes, it is kind of embarrassing.
For cult film fans, it is particularly painful to see Franco Nero ham it up as
the island’s old Casanova (Django, No!). Those looking for a sugary,
fun-in-the-sun rom-com will get more entertainment out of the admittedly
shallow Walking on Sunshine, now
available on VOD. For patrons of Bosnian and Croatian cinema who want to see it
for themselves, Love Island screens this
Tuesday (6/23) and Thursday (6/25) as part of Frameline 39 in San Francisco.
Labels: Bosnian-Herzegovinian Cinema, Frameline 39, Franco Nero