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The Load

Far away, behind the darkened Kosovan hills, bombs fall, sending up columns of sparks into the dusky sky. The rumble and crackle sounds out a moment later, and it’s indicative of Serbian director Ognjen Glavonić’s ruthlessly rigorous approach to his austere debut fiction feature: The fireworks are never in the foreground. Instead, we follow a small truck wending its way down the hillside. Inside a motley collection of surly men, including Vlada (powerful Croatian actor Leon Lučev, recently seen in Alen Drljević’s excellent “Men Don’t Cry”) avoid each other’s eyes, bicker about money and take brief naps, despite the jolting, against windows that reflect burning buildings and leafless trees. This is Kosovo in 1999, when the NATO bombing campaign has been going on so long that it’s become part of everyday life, as unremarkable as an extended spell of bad weather.

When they finally disembark, the men are each assigned a sealed truck to drive to Belgrade. Vlada’s vehicle is dirty white, little bigger than a van. Its doors are sealed, and when a police check occurs en route, Vlada produces a piece of paper that allows him to continue on without opening it up for inspection. The shadiness of the enterprise is literal as well as figurative, cloaked in the crepuscular grays and browns of Tatjana Krstevski’s impeccably vérité, low-contrast, handheld camerawork. But there is clearly official sanction behind whatever it is Vlada’s involved in.

Duration: 98 min

Release:

IMDb: N/A