Review: Tilva Rosh – Tilva Ros (2010)

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Tilva Rosh – Tilva Ros (2010)

Directed by: Nikola Lezaic | 99 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Marko Todorovic, Stefan Djordjevic, Dunja Kovacevic, Marko Milenkovic, Nenad Stanisavljevic, Nenad Ivanovic, Filip Maksimovic, Milos Petrovic, Nenad Miladinovic, Vlatko Ristov, Nikola Milovanovic, Bosko Djordjevic, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Milan Radosajevljevic Ljubomir Todorovic, Nenad Pecinar, Dragan Stojmenovic, Raca Rukavina, Ratibor Trivunac

Bored youth on skateboards in Bor, Serbia with a soft spot for sado masochistic pranks caught on camera for everyone’s amusement; or the domesticated form of idiocy à la ‘Jackass’… Monotonous dialogues, coming of age storyline with a strong smells like teen spirit aroma: that is ‘Tilva Rosh’, also known as ‘Tilva Ros’.

‘Tilva Rosh’ should actually be a documentary about the ups and downs of Serbian youth in the mining hole Bor; tone, form and development are very similar to a journalistic report in which the viewer follows the lives of disabled teenagers for a while. That means a minimalistic development of the storyline, no plot, a distant tone and limited dramatic means to bind the viewer to the story. In short, the viewer’s interest must be fed by the subject: in this case the characters. Why else would we want to watch these bored and unsympathetic youngsters for an hour and a half? An anthropological interest in a Serbian subculture? It could be; but ‘Tilva Rosh’ is not a documentary despite many of the actors playing themselves and the story being based on real life episodes of the protagonists Toda and Stefan; and so we look at this scene of teenage angst with different expectations, which at times feels a bit forced.

Teens in movies involuntarily remind you of your own childhood; behind the nose piercings and tattoos we also expect a lot of similarities. However, these Toda and Stefan are from the ‘Jackass’ generation and throughout the film we see them perform a series of dangerous and painful stunts that are of such an idiotic level that a psychological analysis would be in order.

If there is, it reads as follows: protagonist Toda dreads growing up and starting his working life. He realizes that he is of poorer descent than his friend who is going to college. For Toda, a low paid working life is on the horizon, while it is also a crisis, so the prospects are not very good. There is no question of any social involvement, even though Toda might want to. Toda also likes his friend’s girlfriend, but it doesn’t work out. Classic themes: fear of the future and poor communication. The latter is most clearly expressed in the monotonous and intangible conversations between the young people. Instead of dialogue comes an escapism in self-destruction. Apparently it’s easier to work your kneecaps with a cheese slicer than to express your emotions. It is a pity that director Nikola Lezaic fails to make clear the necessity of this spiritual poverty. Are young people having such a hard time right now? Or is there a new kind of subcultural suffering?

In the end ‘Tilva Rosh’ uses a mix of nihilism and quasi realism combined with some beautiful pictures, a combination that we have encountered before in many indies of recent years. The documentary-like feel is enhanced with melancholic songs that romanticize the lives of these teenagers. Is the brotherly demolition of a car something to long for or should the boys and girls of ‘Tilva Rosh’ be ashamed of this?

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