›› Sasha - Saša ‹‹

a film by Dennis Todorovic.

2010 | 102 mins | Germany.

an irresistibly compelling take on the coming out scenario.

Dave says:

From writer and director Dennis Todorovic comes this irresistibly compelling take on the coming out scenario, as told from an immigrant / culture clash perspective.

Not that Sasha (Saša Kekez) is out to anyone yet, as a return journey to Cologne from a family holiday in their birth land of Montenegro, is set to witness. A gifted piano prodigy with a career in music ahead of him, his days when not practicing for a forthcoming audition, are spent with his close friend Jiao (Yvonne Yung Hee Bormann); an aspiring violinist who much to her regret comes to know where Sasha's heart truly lies. And put it this way, it's not with the piano concertos of Beethoven or Mozart. Rather in lies with time spent with his handsome tutor Gebhard Weber (Tim Bergmann). Yet when Gebhard informs his love-struck pupil that he's about to leave for a teaching assignment in Vienna, a heartbroken Sasha is forced to face the music and in more than ways, than one.

With solid production values throughout, here Todorovic has crafted a spirited mix of comedy and drama, filling his work with many a light-hearted moment, before building up to its cinematic crescendo in a dramatic, if slightly overemotional fashion. Then again, such is down to the narrative that paints a picture of a family who assume that Sasha's emotional outbursts are due to the stress of his forthcoming entrance examination for a prestigious music school, whereas the viewer knows the reality that such episodes are courtesy of his burgeoning sexuality, as highlighted by a mother (Zeljka Preksavec) all too eager for her son to succeed; a character that's vividly juxtaposed by a father (Predrag Bjelac) more interested in his son's relationship with the beautiful Jiao. It's a situation that Todorovic delights in, raising the stakes to deliver acts of fraternal jealousy, by way of Sasha's brother Boki (Jasin Mjumjunov) having the hots for Jiao, only for Sasha to seemingly have no other option but to continue with his sexual masquerade, in light of the homophobic views of his father.

Sure, a number of scenes are telegraphed well in advance, but in between them Todorovic builds a strong sense of Montenegrin machismo, of parents living their dreams through their offspring and of a socially conservative father clearly ill-at-ease with the liberal outlook of metropolitan life. The result is a captivating work ingrained with yearnings for love and acceptance, with Kekez achingly conveying the pains of a young man desperately trying to be his true self in the face of what others expect of him, even if Bjelac's Jekyll and Hyde persona dominates many a sequence; smiling one moment, lashing out with his hands the next.

That Todorovic goes out of his way to tie all the loose ends of the plot up neatly, is to his credit, even if it does make for a somewhat prolonged close-of-play; as equally admirable are the scenes that depict Sasha getting down to some passionate man-on-man lip-service, as the raging hormones of adolescent youth are seen in all of their intensity. All of which makes for a multicultural feature that takes an unconventional and thereby all the more refreshing look at the coming out process, alongside ones dreams for the future and therein the shattered hearts of life when love turns to rejection and hope to despair, if not tragedy itself. A pure bittersweet delight.

›› available as part of the PECCADILLO PICTURES catalogue: 30th January, 2012 / UK.
›› revised: Thursday, 31st August, 2023.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› copyright © 2023 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
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