Review: Reproach of Men (2019)


Director: Rob Lücker | 10 minutes | short film, drama | Actors: Ranko Kovačević, Marko Smiljkovic

Filmmaker Rob Lücker is a late bloomer. Although his love for film showed itself at a young age, for a long time he thought that a career in the film industry would not be possible for him. And so he went to work as a plumber. But his love for film continued to tickle and to his great luck Lücker was accepted at the age of 26 at the Film Academy. His work is renowned for its dark humor and strong visual images. In 2014, with his hilarious short film ‘Das Wad’ (2014), about the Jewish prospector Salomon who stumbles upon a German U-boat while searching for treasures on the Wadden Islands, he won a Golden Calf for best short film and The series ‘Rundfunk’ and ‘Seven small criminals’ directed by him are also widely appreciated and praised. His short film “Reproach of people” (2019) has also been shortlisted by the selection committee for the Golden Calves. Lücker was inspired for this film by a thirteenth-century parable by Nareddin Hodja, an Islamic cleric known for his satirical stories.

The ten-minute “Reproach of the People” tells the story of eighty-year-old Andrej, who goes on a journey with his six-year-old grandson Pico and their pack donkey Todor. During their journey they meet different people and everyone interferes with him. A man in a hammock comments on Andrej making his grandson walk while on the donkey himself, so they trade. The vanity they encounter afterwards thinks that Pico has to make way for his grandfather (“The youth of today no longer has any respect for the elderly”). So both Andrej and Pico decide to continue on foot. The couple they then bump into bites them that they cannot do it to their donkey to carry their heavy things. How do Andrej and Pico deal with all this commentary and are they still able to continue on their way?

‘Reproach of people’ is a tragicomic fairy tale that was filmed by Rob Lücker as a ‘silent’ film: there is no speaking, but thanks to old-fashioned title cards we still get (albeit sparse) dialogues, supported by a perfectly fitting soundtrack of the Black Ox Orkestar. The film was shot in the outbacks of Serbia, a landscape that looks even more desolate than it already is because of the black-and-white filter that Lücker uses. The director’s deep-rooted love for Sergio Leone’s westerns is evident in the style he uses here: the beautiful, expressive heads of lead actors Ranko Kovačević and Marko Simljkovic are often seen in close-up, with unfathomable looks. Not only because of his strong visual images, but also because of the black humor, “Blame the people” hits the right chord. “Reproach of the people” is more relevant than you think at first sight; the “shouting horns” commenting on the roadside symbolize the shouters who wave their unsubstantiated opinion into the air via social media. Lücker also cycles in some visual jokes and a big wink to (some of) the seven deadly sins, adding an extra layer. A fine example of what this promising filmmaker has to offer!

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