Monday, August 29, 2011

It Rains in My Village (1968)*****

Reviewed by Shu Zin

IT RAINS IN MY VILLAGE has the classic elements of a love story, presented in a tiny village of peasants somewhere in Serbia, enlivened with murder, and punctuated with a gaggle of gypsy musicians: testy, observant, ironic and brill. I wished for subtitles for the lyrics. These musicians function as a sort of Greek chorus; a loose political context provides the background. The themes and music are evocative of a people who cannot be suppressed; they are indifferent to a vaguely perceived totalitarian government as they go about trying to rebuild their ruined church. I suppose it helps if you love the music, and I do. It always makes me dance or weep or laugh. It is used to brilliant effect here; I did all three.

Aleksandar Petrovic directs this straightforward film and, making extraordinary use of close-ups, contributes beauty and pathos to a story that is well-written and highly intelligent. Shocks and surprises happen here, just occasionally, but powerfully.

A high point in the film is the appearance of French actress, Annie Girardot (see her astounding filmography on Wikipedia) who died in February, 2011. She is Gotza, a whimsical, heartbreaking village idiot whom a handsome pig farmer, Tricha, is tricked into marrying. Then, with the shocking appearance of an automobile, a beautiful, arrogant school teacher, passionate and cruel, arrives in town, followed by a handsome airman, to wreak havoc with the social fabric of the village.

The villagers exist in a time warp, a vacuum. One of the more profoundly edifying lines in the film is “we never get the newspapers, so I wouldn’t know, friend.” The final triumph of religion and local justice is cynical and nothing short of appalling. If you are in the mood for a powerful, exotic and original movie, my suggestion is to give this one a shot. Classic themes in a fresh, original, moving take with attendant shocks to the system. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Shu Zin

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