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Göteborg Review: Venice Winner ‘Class Enemy’ A Lean, Absorbing Parable Of Authoritarianism & Rebellion

  • By Jessica Kiang
  • |
  • January 31, 2014 5:25 PM
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Class Enemy
While we could wish it had a less punny title, “Class Enemy,” the debut feature film from Slovenian shorts filmmaker Rok Bicek is in almost every other way exemplary. Unashamedly cerebral, the film’s cool intelligence shows most in its control and formal rigor that encourage the audience—whose sympathies are expertly maneuvered to lie first on one side, then on the other, and then possibly nowhere at all—to read the story on levels above and beyond what is shown on screen. So while the film itself is extremely contained, almost to the point of claustrophobia, its scope feels large, epic almost, as we are provoked to think about what it means if we substitute the characters for what they might perhaps represent. And while it occasionally flirts with a kind of psychodramatic horror, Haneke-style, mostly it’s a master class in narrative restraint, that still somehow grips your attention like a progressively tightening vice. But perhaps its greatest achievement is in how the film’s own detached moral ambivalence is preserved right to the end, meaning the judgements are left to us. It is not a blackhearted film; its heart, if it has one, is made of cold steel.

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