2005 // Macedonia // Sergej Stanojkovski // November 19, 2008 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
The ragged comedic swagger of Sergej Stanojkovski's marvelous Kontakt is a complement to the tragic realism of Aditya Assarat's Wonderful Town. This fable of challenging, unlikely love in a contemporary Macedonia of slate skies and festering wounds ambles along with a soulful awareness of human misery. The avaricious schemes of a relation brings together two social castoffs: Habitual convict Janko (Nikola Kojo) grudgingly accepts a job to renovate the dilapidated villa where Zana (Labina Mitevska) convalesces after three years in a mental institution. They immediately dislike one another. However, this is not the convenient, overwrought antagonism of a screwball comedy, but a plausible defense thrown up by souls fed a diet of mistrust, anxiety, and hostility. Kontakt weaves in other narrative threads as well as Macedonian cultural and historical embellishments, but the odd relationship between Janko and Zana is at the forefront of the film. With bouts of dark chuckles and an effortless hand, Stanojkovski renders their fitful romance so gradually its believability fades away as a concern. Never mind that portly Janko is a violent misanthrope, or that skinny Zana is an emotional cripple. The first time Janko utters the word "sweetheart"—almost off-handedly—one's heart thrills.