Critique of “Tereza37”: the pursuit of motherhood of a modern Croatian woman

Tereza sleeps alone in her bed near the opening of “Tereza37”, Danilo Serbedzija’s placid-paced Croatian drama with edges that are both witty and artfully dark. It is an image that constitutes an appropriate visual preface to Serbedzija’s film, as Tereza is often lonely at home despite her marriage; her husband is regularly absent, frequently goes to sea for his unspecified aquatic work. Then the importance of the scene grows as Tereza turns around, revealing her blood-soaked underwear and sheets which Serbedzija’s pragmatic camera captures with non-sentimental frankness. Shortly after cleaning everything up in a series of routine, Jeanne Dielman-style moves, we realize Tereza has just had her fourth miscarriage, but wants to keep trying to conceive in a desperate quest for motherhood.

Insightfully written by prolific Croatian actress and actress Lana Barić – she also plays the main character here with a thoughtful and approachable nonchalance – Serbedzija’s film follows Tereza and her tireless quest through Split, a large city on the Adriatic coast. . On paper, the 37-year-old seems to have quite a few daily benefits that should lead to a fulfilling life: artistic work in a theater company, a fairly decent marriage with Marko (Leon Lucev), a close relationship with her. fiery Sister Renata (a terrific Ivana Roscic), a fun best friend she goes out drinking and dancing with and a well-appointed, sunny apartment.

But then again, nothing is quite as it seems and what really surrounds Tereza is an existence that feels limited and with no way out within its reach. As a result, we soon learn that her best friend is about to leave Split for Berlin with her new boyfriend, her husband is careless and unfriendly, and her job can be a drag. To make matters worse, outdated male-centric standards usually cast a considerable shadow over her life when she is already plagued by her series of heartbreaking miscarriages. So what does Tereza do if it doesn’t shake things up a bit? Enter the wacky advice of her happy gynecologist following Tereza’s last unsuccessful pregnancy. “Why not give it a try with other men,” she said insolently, suggesting that Tereza might not be genetically compatible with her husband. Fed up and clearly a little bored, Tereza accepts this unorthodox and no-serious recommendation with a shrug.

The script navigates Tereza’s risky business with a keen eye, often reminding the viewer of the deeply ingrained misogyny of her culture that cripples her life despite her rebellious act of sexual independence. In this regard, even the sweetest and most organic of her extramarital affairs – with kind neighbor Nikola (a charismatic Dragan Micanovic), the first suitor Tereza pursues after meeting him one day on her commute – turns a bit wrong. vinegar once Tereza decides to move out and Nikola can’t figure it out. We also see her luck crumble in nightclubs and cafes after a number of unsuccessful pregnancy attempts, ultimately bringing her into violent conflict with grotesque predator Vedran (Goran Markovic) in a devastating scene. Always in tune with Tereza’s psyche, the daring lens of Serbedzija and cinematographer Mirko Pivcevic aptly underscores the young woman’s crippling humiliation during those few difficult minutes.

Elsewhere in the film, minor transgressions between women do not escape the gaze of the film, reflecting a dimension of macho societies that many films ignore. With a critical eye and a dose of subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor, Barić and Serbedzija accordingly create episodic snippets where women chatter harmlessly behind each other’s backs or throw themselves longingly at the satchel. fancy hand or the physical good shape of another.

Screenwriter Barić’s feminine sharpness on the page is enhanced by costume designer Zeljka Franulovic’s sartorial contribution to the story that playfully differentiates Tereza’s understated, even matronistic silhouettes – modest A-line skirts below the knee and tucked into t-shirts – of the other women around her. The contrast is particularly accentuated between Tereza and Renata, who often favor low cuts and body-hugging cuts, and prompts Tereza to invest in sexier clothes. Barić also recognizes the tight-knit family structures of South East Europe with both sympathy and an analytical attitude, seeking the roots of his society’s deep-rooted patriarchy in traditional families like the one who raised Tereza and Renata. .

Throughout the film, the cinematography remains smooth and bright, comfortingly accentuating the play between light and shadow. It’s remarkable how Serbedzija juxtaposes this peaceful look with the symmetrical and intentionally sultry production design of Petra Poslek, a feeling reflected in the places of history around Split – cookie-cutter soulless buildings that stand out from the crowd. stretch out in the streets and squares of the city like the identical bellows of an accordion. It’s a shame that “Tereza37” feels a bit indecisive in its final act, struggling to get Tereza’s story to a satisfying end. Then again, this ambiguity is perhaps the most appropriate path for a character who, in the end, always seems to be looking for a meaningful journey.


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