Dir.: Hana Jusic, Cast: Mia Petricevic, Croatia 2016, 105 min.
Marijana (Petricevic) has the misfortune to be a member of the most dysfunctional family in a small Croatian town. At 24, she works as a midwife assistant in the local hospital where the staff are all fearful of keeping their jobs. But life at home is even worse: her father is a tyrant, beating her with a towel when she gets on his frayed nerves. Her brother is an overweight layabout who has never worked a day in his life, but is protected by their mother, who, like her son, is only interested in stuffing her face with food. Marijana meanwhile is fit and slim, always trying to make the best of herself. Things go from bad to worse after the father suffers a stroke and she is forced to care for him whilst sharing a bed with her mother, who has fled the marital bedroom.
Without a boyfriend, Marijana takes up casual sex, but it fails to satisfy her emotional longings. Sliding more and more into a masochistic way of life. Marijana is finally ‘saved’ by her mother in an unexpected release. Although freedom now beckons, the young woman is not quiet sure yet what do with it .
Jusic crafts a fine portrait of a person who is driven to despair by her repressive family, and retreats into herself. Without a concrete identity – apart from feeding her family – she succumbs to her grim existence as a cleaner. Petricevic is brilliant, and Jusic observes her with distance and slight humour. Cinematography is also impressive, with particularly good use made of camera angles that swoop down on Marijana in her hopeless existence. Yet despite of its grim subject matter, Quit Staring is energetic and innovative drama. A little gem. AS
IN COMPETITION AT WARSAW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL UNTIL 16 OCTOBER 2016