1988, a feral child literally raised by wolves had even less of an
understanding of the Balkan conflict than Bill Clinton (how did that whole arms
embargo thing work out again?), but he will be assigned his respective side just
the same. It is baffling to the boy and perverse to the viewer, but it is as
natural as gravity to the both the kids and adults around him. His belated
education and socialization will come with a bitter dose of irony in Vuk Ršumović’s
No One’s Child The Record Man (trailer here), which screens
during this year’s Film Comment Select.
by Serbian hunters in central Bosnia, the boy who will be randomly named Haris Pucurica
as an acknowledgement of his presumed Bosnia ethnicity is taken to Belgrade for
their own convenience. Consigned to an orphanage, the uncommunicative Pucurica
is considered little more than an animal. Periodically, junior staffer Vaspitac
Ilke tries to reach the wild child, but only the somewhat older and cooler Zika
succeeds in breaking through Pucurica’s animalistic shell.
Zika’s own unstable family situation will cut short his friendship with Pucurica
as well as his courtship of the pretty Alisa. Unfortunately, Pucurica’s acclimation
to human society also comes with his first taste of human tragedy. As the years
pass and the War ignites, Bosnia will claim their presumed countryman, but Ilke
fears for the boy’s safety in the besieged nation.
know right from the start Pucurica will be better off with the wolves than
navigating the war. Still, Ršumović manages to make his points without
completely bashing viewers over the head. Frankly, No One’s Child, along with Mirjana Karanovic’s A Good Wife represent the hopeful stirrings of a revisionist trend
towards national self-examination in Serbian cinema. There is no way either
would ever be possible under the bitterly remembered Milosevic regime.
Murić is rather remarkable as Pucurica. He is indeed suitably wild when
necessary, but his performance is also acutely sensitive and surprisingly
disciplined. He really does not need language, because Murić has a knack for
displaying his inner feelings on his forehead. As Zika and Alisa, young and
charismatic Pavle Čemerikić and Isidora Janković show loads of future star
potential, but it is Miloš Timotijević who really keeps the film grounded as
the decent but not necessarily noble Ilke.
It is hard to miss the drastic change in tone
when a more-or-less gang of Bosnian-Serbs are admitted to the orphanage and
proceed to engage in wanton thuggery. It would be very healthy for the region
if No One’s Child were widely
screened and debated in the Srpska district, but it won’t be. Recommended for
those who appreciate tough-minded drama, No
One’s Child screens this coming Monday (2/22) as part of the current
edition of Film Comment Selects, now underway at the Walter Reade.
Labels: Feral children, Film Comment Selects '16, Serbian Cinema