The Trap

The Trap
Made in: Serbia, Germany
Language: Serbian
Director: Srdan Golubović
Starring: Nebojša Glogovac, Nataša Ninković, Marko Djurovic, Miki Manojlović, Anica Dobra
Year: 2007

Synopsis: In post-Milošević Belgrade, a construction engineer named Mladen Pavlović (Nebojša Glogovac), lives in a decent apartment with his wife Marija (Nataša Ninković) and their 8 year-old son, Nemanja (Marko Djurovic). Although living modestly, Mladen and Marija are able to provide for their son and are generally happy.

But after his gym class one day, Nemanja collapses and is rushed to the hospital.There, Mladen and Marija learn that their son has a life-threatining heart muscle condition and requires surgery. But the closest clinic that can perform the procedure is in Germany, at a cost of 26,000 Euros! And to make matters worse, the operation isn't covered under their insurance.

After numerous failed attempts to secure loans, Marija, over Mladen's objection, puts an ad in the paper imploring the public for charitable donations.

One evening, a mysterious man (Miki Manojlović) phones Mladen about the ad and arranges a meeting at an upscale hotel. The man, well-dressed and well-spoken, says he'll give Mladen 30,000 Euros, which is enough to pay for the operation and travel to Germany.

But the catch, however, is that the man wants Mladen to commit a murder.

Initially repulsed by the idea, Mladen refuses at first. But as Nemanja's condition becomes more serious, he begins to reconsider…and wonders how far he is willing to go to save his son's life…

And is this plan really as straightforward as it sounds?

Remarks: The Trap is a very well-structured, compelling film noir thriller. The drama is realistic, and the acting is superbly genuine and natural. The actors really do seem like ordinary people, which makes the connection with the audience all the more real. The cinematography is devoid of any noticeable stylistic enhancement, which gives you the sense that you're actually there in Belgrade.

The characters have depth as well. Although much of the social commentary is focused on the wide disparity between rich and poor, no one is consistently portrayed as sympathetic nor detestable. Director Srdan Golubović points out that all facets of society, regardless of wealth and status, are still facing emotional and psychological struggles years after the war in the Balkans.

Who would like this film: I'd recommend The Trap for those who are more seriously interested in international cinema and film noir. The story is solid and well-constructed, and wouldn't be lost on anyone choosing to watch it. And seeing that it follows many common film noir conventions, the story is appropriately dark,

The Trap is also quite eye-opening. In the US (where I'm writing this review), we didn't hear much about Serbia after the end of Slobodan Milošević. It's probably wrong to assume that this film speaks for all of Serbian society, but Golubović's even-handed and thoughtful approach should be enough to spark some degree of intellectual curiosity about the current state of the Balkans.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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