The Wounds

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The Wounds

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A harrowing anti-war film in the form of a cave-black comedy, director Srdjan Dragojevic's Pretty Villages, Pretty Flames combined absurdism with the stylistic flair of a Scorsese acolyte. The film effectively captured the war in Bosnia, viewing the conflict as insanity itself while waxing nostalgic for the order of Communist rule, if not for Communism itself. With his follow-up, Dragojevic demonstrates how often the chaos of war recreates itself in other forms, at home as well as on the front. Following the rise and fall of two teens—handsome extrovert Milan Maric and shy, slack-jawed narrator Dusan Pekic—raised in the slums of Belgrade, The Wounds takes the form of a classic gangster film but leaves in the grime of poverty and life during wartime. After apprenticing under a small-time thug with delusions of grandeur (Dragan Bjelogrlic), Pekic and Maric start doing booming business when U.N. sanctions create a black-market need for just about everything. Their extreme behavior even earns them a spot on a TV show, Asphalt Pulse, that glamorizes criminals, but a peaceful future among the fleshpots of Amsterdam remains more talked about than planned. Modeled in many respects after GoodFellas, Dragojevic's decision to let lost youth tell its own story reinforces the power of his forceful narrative and visual style, as Pekic's nihilistic musings reveal a character for whom hope has never been an option. Banned in Serbia for the director's refusal to condemn the actions of Belgrade's young criminal class, The Wounds doesn't glamorize or approve of its protagonists, but understands the conditions that created them. An opening title dedicates the film to "post-Tito generations," who have grown up knowing only need, disorder, and disarray. "This will be a very cruel and shocking film, a film that will make A Clockwork Orange seem like a Disney production," Dragojevic has said, but his post-Tito kids live in a world that Burgess and Kubrick could only have imagined. Where Clockwork carried a heavy allegorical weight, The Wounds has the disturbing feel of reportage.

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