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REVIEW: F20 (2018) November 23, 2018

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.


A Fillm Review

Romantics among critics and film historians like to tell stories about many great and valuable films that never got made or went through development hell over being too “artsy” or not “commercial” enough for The Powers That Be. Such is fate usually reserved for films and their creators in market-driven cinema industries, but sometimes the opposite can happen in cinema industries that owe much of their existence to taxpayers and bureaucrats that run them. In those cinema industries chances for film to be greenlit are in reverse proportionto it being audience-friendly genre piece. One of such example can be found in Croatian cinema with F20, 2018 thriller directed by Arsen A.Ostojić.

The film had its origin ten years ago in a screenplay written by Hrvoje Sadarić,young man who happened to be Croatian Parliament clerk at the time.Despite his apparent proximity to corridors of power and despite hisscript actually winning a contest for aspiring filmmakers, it took nearly whole decade before that script became a feature film. The easiest explanation for such long development hell could be found inits content, which puts it in the genres of crime film, thriller and horror – those that mandarins in government and quasi-government boards see as worthless , too commercial and least likely to winprestigious festival awards for projects they are about to finance. F20 was, therefore, made only after huge difficulties and,because of its lack of “artsiness” didn’t receive as much attention among Croatian critics and cultural establishment as would have otherwise done.

The plot of the film is relatively simple. Filip (played by Filip Mayer) is young man who spends summer in his parents’ Zagreb apartment playing violent videogames. His only regular contact with the outside world is pizzeria whose owner Mate (played by Mladen Vulić), faced with a labour shortage, had to use his daughter Martina (played by Romina Tonković)for delivery service. Young woman, who would like to spend summerholidays with her friends partying on Adriatic coast, hates her job,but she falls in love with a young man, seduces him and decides to gowith him to the coast anyway. The only problem is the lack offinance, but Martina is determined to solve it, even if it meansstealing her father’s money with Filip’s help. Young couple, however,soon find that those simple plans have a habit of backfiring, and during a single night two of them get engaged in increasingly violent cycle of events that would end in bloodshed.

F20 is a simple film based on idea that combines many often used plots about crazy love, “simple” crime schemes going bad andseemingly ideal people turning into homicidal maniacs. Ostojić, aware of its simplicity and lack of originality, tries to spicethings up by employing non-linear narrative structure. Hence, the opening of the film shows police and paramedics dealing with bloody aftermath of the events that would be seen in the film; the notice atthe film’s opening goes even further by explaining the meaning of the title and giving the clear indication where would certain character and the plot go. Despite the spoiler-like structure, apparent lack ofbudget and occasional use of cliches, F20 mostly works as a very exciting and well-made thriller that pays homage to 1980s slasher films at the very end. This is mostly due to good direction and young actors who are very good in playing theircharacters who are one-dimensional and shallow even after major plot twist. Unlike most ofCroatian filmmakers, Ostojić doesn’t bother audience with some “deep” content or social commentary; 90 minutesof running time doesn’t leave much time for that. However, there are opportunities for some levity, mostly in the form of rather unconventional policeman played by Alen Liverić. Ostojić, probably in an attempt to win parts of Croatian establishment, uses his film to advertise certain aspects of Croatian economy, which includefamous beach party clubs at Zrče, as well as Croatian video-game SCUM, which is being played by Filip. Some critics from the left, onthe other hand, might easily frown upon certain conservative aspects of F20, mostly seen in positive attitudes towards traditional family values and negative attitudes towards youthful hedonism and gaming subculture. However, despite all those flaws, F20 deserves recommendation as a film which is good, and not only interesting for being made outside Croatian mainstream.

RATING: 6/10


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