2007 // Serbia // Srdan Golubovic // November 22, 2008 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Tivoli Theater)
Srdan Golubovic's The Trap never hits the rattling neo-noir sweet spot that it aims for, partly because the director never proceeds beyond the story's descriptive aspects. His themes laze on the surface, stated but not completely explored. Mladen (Nebojsa Glogovac), an engineer with an ailing young son, is offered a devil's deal by a sinister stranger: murder a man I designate, and I will pay for your child's operation. Glogovac delivers a scrawled, tormented performance, but Golubovic directs an unfortunate clinical gaze on Mladen's plight, an odd choice given that The Trap's most engaging potential angle is an excavation of the conflicted man's headspace. Instead, Golubovic seems overly enamored with the tale's twists—most uninspired, a few downright thrilling—and with conjuring the particular despair of Serbian class and cultural anxieties. There's nothing particularly unpleasant about The Trap: It's an entertaining thriller, and doesn't engage in any hackneyed tricks to arrive at its destination. It's also refreshingly free of stylized anxiousness, a gray, gritty breeze in the wake of Tornatore's mesmerizing but exhausting The Unknown Woman. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity, a straightforward examination of criminality and economic hardship lacking the electricity of a denser thematic work.