Kyle Cubr reviews “Goran” and “Rainbow: A Private Affair” of the European Union Film Festival for Cine-File Chicago

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GORAN

Following the titular GORAN (Franjo Dijak), we see a portrait of an earnest yet disillusioned man. He’s built a new sauna with his friend at his beloved cottage, his blind wife is pregnant, and her well-to-do father has offered him a job at his lumberyard. Plus, it’s about to be his birthday. Too bad for Goran that he’s infertile, forcing him to be suspicious of every one of his friends as to who the true father of his unborn child could be. After confronting one such friend, a chaotic chain of events transpires that soon grows to affect everyone in Goran’s inner-circle. One of GORAN’s most fascinating features is its dynamic shifts in tone, with each act adding a new wrinkle to the fold. From melodrama to mystery to dark comedy, the viewer grows empathetic to Goran’s cause, as he seems unable to positively impact his negative situation, much like Michael Stuhlbarg’s character in A SERIOUS MAN. It’s also easy to see whispers of FARGO’s influence in the film’s plot of a well-intentioned man looking out for his family who falls victim to a set of circumstances that go seriously astray. GORAN’s effective pacing pairs well with the film’s short length to depict a wild, rollercoaster-like ride.

RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR

Set in the Italian countryside during World War II, RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR follows Milton (Luca Marinelli), a solider in the anti-fascist resistance movement, as he searches for his best friend who has been captured by the Fascists. Milton is also haunted by the memory of a woman to whom he used to teach English who he fell madly in love with but has since moved to another part of the country. The film alternates between the somewhat monochromatic present and colorfully vibrant sequences of Milton interacting with Fulvia, be it teaching her lessons or other moments of bonding they experienced together. Shades of Malick’s BADLANDS are present here as there is a juxtaposition of the harsh, brutality of wartime with the idyllic Italian countryside and other scenes of beauty. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” serves as the film’s de facto theme, with each inclusion of it adding a new meaning to RAINBOW’s story. There’s a certain calm aura present during the breaks in chaos that adds an uneasy, dreamlike quality to the narrative. A romantic war film, RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR shows that lovers and fighters are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that beauty can be found in even the most dire of situations.

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