A deftly handled piece of cinema discussing gender, xenophobia, and love, The Constitution is well worth your attention. Coming from Raindance stalwarts Rajko Grlić & Ante Tomić, this Croatian film blends a delicate script and talented actors to create a rather wonderful feature.
“a film of delicate beauty”
Nebojša Glogovac stars as Vjekoslav, a Croatian professor who cares for his father, a once prominent fascist officer, a facet of character that lives on in his son’s blood nationalism. At odds with his fascism is Katarina, the woman he becomes at night, adorned in elegant, hand-made dresses, toasting the memory of his former boyfriend. In the same apartment block lives Ante (Dejan Aćimović), a Serb police officer who must learn the Croatian constitution by heart to keep his job. One night Vjekoslav crosses paths with Maja (Ksenija Marinković) a nurse, and wife of Ante, who tends to him after he suffers a homophobic beating. As a favour for the daily care he receives in his home from Maja, Vjekoslav agrees to help Ante learn the constitution, with its promises of equality, justice, and freedom from persecution.
The Constitution could have been an intensely dark, heavy watch but bathed in comedy as it is, the film is an easily palatable watch, raising questions in your mind rather than beating home a message. It challenges how we perceive each other and addresses hypocrisies in the various beliefs we hold: how can someone who is so detested by neo-Nazis hold the very values they use to justify their persecution of them?
A film that deals so strongly in characters rests entirely on two elements: its script and its actors. Both are sublime in this instance. Marinković & Aćimović are a delightful and endearing couple to watch, whilst Glogovac’s turn as both Vjekoslav and Katarina, not so much two people as two distinct characters within one, is utterly believable. For a script to retain such nuance through translation is quite a feat, and Grlić & Tomić have proven time and again to be capable – this is no exception.
A wonderfully executed script with genuine understanding of its topics, The Constitution is a film of delicate beauty.
Image: Rajko Grlić