Reel Affirmations 2006
Review by Will O’Bryan
Rating: (2 out of 5)
Wednesday, 10/18/2006, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
A FILM OFFERING a story about two male lovers — one Serbian Orthodox, the other a Muslim — trying to stay alive amidst the genocidal warring that accompanied the dissolution of Yugoslavia, seems at once gripping. So little artistic expression has come out of this scar on the human record that thoughtful audiences thirst for it. That legendary Jeanne Moreau is among the cast is added incentive. But what Go West may seem to be on paper is not quite what Go West is on screen.
First off, don’t hold your breath waiting for Jeanne Moreau to enter the scene, which is primarily a dusty mining town in the Bosnian hinterlands. She shows up for about the last three minutes. Instead, we have an unknown cast portraying a motley assortment of Serbians. There’s Ranka, the barmaid/Serbian witch; the legless Orthodox priest; the chainsaw-wielding laborers; the toy-soldier orphan; and a few others. Could the bumbling best friend be intended as comic relief? In these circumstances?
While the story sets off from Sarajevo at the dawn of the slaughter, the bulk of the story takes place in that small town with a Texas-wagon-wheel flair, thanks to time the town patriarch spent mining in the Lone Star state. Gay Muslim Kenan hides here, disguised as his Serbian lover’s female bride, until he and his ”husband,” Milan, can secure the paperwork to immigrate to the Netherlands. Milan, on the other hand, has been drafted to fight in the Serbian Army. Kenan is about as isolated as can be, the threat of death hanging over his every move. Each day is a reminder of that, as he treks to the well in the neighboring village to fetch water. As a Muslim village, all the inhabitants are dead or otherwise departed, thanks to his new Serbian neighbors. Ranka reckons that purge cursed the Serb village, drying up their own well.
On screen, Go West looks less a heartfelt exploration of this very real chapter of human horrors, but rather a Fellini-inspired ”spaghetti Western.” Granted, there are plenty of people who love both Fellini and spaghetti Westerns. Go West is for them. Others will likely find Go West disturbingly inappropriate. — WOB