Svetozar Ristovski drags the corpse of Billy Elliott through sewer water in his appropriately titled Mirage—the film is so unreal, only a starved and weak-kneed cinesnob will be suckered in by it. Strikes, working-class discontent, and whacked paterfamilias provide the backdrop to this shrill little account of a boy straddling the line between good and evil. A small jewel in a pile of coal, Marko (Marko Kovacevic) suffers one indignity after another at the hands of his sister, his drunken father, and his school’s bully brigade in post-war Macedonia. “Fuck” is the expletive of choice in the film’s miserablist hell, followed closely by “faggot” (uttered 10 times by my count), “beast,” and “suckhole,” with the champion threat being some variation of “I’m gonna fuck your sister in the ass.” By the time the angel-haired Marko asks his mother to guess who got the best grade in school that day, the audience will likely relate to the woman’s comatose reaction. Marko’s talent for poetry promises escape from his home’s circus-freak atmosphere of terror. He wants to go to Paris—instead, a hunky older man named after the French capitol teaches him how to shoot a gun and stand up to his bullies. Is he a mirage? No, just a contrivance, not unlike the Macedonian schoolteacher who wants to aerate the boy’s talents. Some will want to tease out an allegory here about how a region of the world has come to lose its way when all Ristovski does is posit an alternate ending to Good Will Hunting in which Matt Damon busts a cap in Robin Williams’s ass. It’s an attractive offer, except Mirage also makes the mistake of the Gus Van Sant film by laying it on thick.
- Picture This!
- 107 min
- Svetozar Ristovski
- Grace Lee Troje, Svetozar Ristovski
- Marko Kovacevic, Mustafa Nadarevic, Vlado Jovnovski, Nikola Djuricko, Dejan Acimovic, Elena Mosevska, Slavica Manaskova, Nikola Hejko
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