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October 2010

Tears For Sale

cast: Katarina Radivojevic, Sonja Kolacaric, Stefan Kapicic, and Nenand Jezdic

director: Uros Stojanovic

86 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
review by A.E. Grace

Tears For Sale

Tears For Sale (aka: Carlston za Ognjenku) is an all singing, all dancing cultural minefield for Serbia; a movie filled with the beauty of Serbian women, landscapes, witchcraft and superstition. This is an exciting, humorous piece from start to finish, following the same vein as foreign masterpieces such as Am�lie, and Pan's Labyrinth, with just a pinch of Stardust, making it a pretty great film all round.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fun and engaging atmosphere of the film, including the delicate metaphors and creative portrayal of old country beliefs. This film was a subtle, light-hearted social comment on the creedal differences of the countryside in Serbia compared to its capital, Belgrade, and the slow exposure women had to the full-swing of the 20th century.

Two sisters of opposite nature live in a small village that has lost every one of their capable men to war and blood oaths, and fear that at just 21 and 22 years old, they'll be old maidens left on the shelf. So when the superstitious pair agree to be 'caressed' by some bed-ridden grandpa, it's no surprise that the village of women are infuriated by his sudden death, caused by their screams of pure horror.

However, Ognjenka, the bolshy sister who fears no evil, isn't about to give in and allow themselves to be burned as witches, all for the sake of an old man. So the pair of them travel to the capital of Serbia, in search of a man to bring back to the village and please its rowdy, love-deprived inhabitants. Here, they're dazzled by the tall buildings, beautiful clothes; and most importantly, the men. But once they've taken their fellows back home, neither are keen on sharing; the 20th century buzz has made them wiser, and they each must choose whether to seize the moment, or seize the future.

There are two prominent factors among many that made this film so enjoyable, and that was humour, and beautiful visuals. Reminiscent of foreign favourites such as Am�lie, this piece took a rather humorous view of the Serbian culture, expressing how their extreme ways had led them to treat spiritual things more like business opportunities than occasions of grief. The girls, who have worked as 'wailers' (dramatic criers who mourn the dead), and the village witch who'd see anyone else burn as long as it isn't her on the bonfire, are just a couple examples of this.

The gorgeous European towns and visuals added magical touches to what is, in essence, a fantasy film; with dancing ghosts, flying objects, and lakes forged by tears, this film really did put me in mind of Pan's Labyrinth and Stardust, just minus the supernatural beasts. But what really intrigued me was the way they used magic and fantastic elements as a way of really immersing the viewer in this culture's way of thinking, which works very well when juxtaposed with the women's lust for the modern world. For a comedy romance, this film has a lot going on.

Does this sound like a movie that was produced (very well, in fact) on just four million euros? Now that sounds like a whopping sum, I know, but when you consider the budget of most blockbusters now days, this was a pretty tight frame to work in for a story that demands so much. I'm pleased to say that, despite its modest budget, every penny was spent beautifully.

The actors, both male and female, all portrayed their various characters with great clarity, amusing one moment, intriguing the next; the cast was so well crafted, that the appeal of foreign films, for me, has grown because of it. The title, Tears For Sale, and simple summary, do not do this film justice at all, but I implore any fantasy or foreign film lovers to watch this delectable little piece, because I guarantee you'll enjoy every moment.



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