Note this film was banned yesterday in Australia, despite being passed with a R+18 in April. Details here:

A Serbian Film banned by the Classification Review Board

A Serbian Film reminds you that you can’t unwatch a film. Like Irreversible, I Spit on Your Grave, Salo and a few other excessively violent, transgressive and sexually provocative films, it will stay with you. It’s the debut feature from Srdjan Spasojevic and it aims to shock. He has that in common with Von Trier, it’s shamelessly exploitative, and unrepentantly manipulative. He’s trying to push our buttons and he succeeds. The opening scene is a five-year-old child impassively watching a porno video, the actor mechanically grinding away at the starlet all kitsch and tasteless. His mother catches him and chastises the father for leaving his videos where the kid can get to them. “Relax, it’s fine,” he says, “I saw my first porn at his age.” The father is the actor in the film.

Critics have panned this film as overly excessive, suggesting that its depravity cloaks a lack of substance. Others have suggested that it can be read as a metaphorical representation of the morally bankrupt vacuum left in the former Yugoslavia. Yet it reads more like a comment on the pornification of our culture, where women, men, even children have been reduced to sexual commodities by mass media. This is an edited version, yet it still retains representations of necrophilia and the rape of a baby, so one wonders what has been cut out to secure the R-rating. South Australia has banned it and JB-Hi-Fi wont stock it.

Yet it is fascinating, particularly in its total disregard of the taboo. It moves so far beyond what is acceptable that it leaves the viewer bewildered. Yet it can’t simply be dismissed for it’s gratuitous nature. It’s a film about power and manipulation; the sexual violence is ultimately a means to an end. Unlike Pasolini’s Salo, Spasojevic does seem to take a certain salivating delight in the depravity drawing it out much further than it needs to go. The only response is to shut down. Unfortunately however you can’t unwatch it.

Bob Baker Fish


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