Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Bread and Milk

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

BREAD AND MILK

8/10

Kruh in Mleko, aka Black and White : Slovenia 2001
director/script : Jan Cvitkovic
cinematography : Toni Laznic
editing : Dafne Jemersik
music : Drago Ivanusa
lead actors : Peter Musevski, Sonja Savic, Tadej Troha, Perica Radonjic-Pepi
68 minutes

Theyve qualified for their first World Cup, and the poshest ex-Yugoslav state can also boast one of Europes rising-star directors: Cvitkovic barely wastes a frame as he brings in Kruh in mleko at a lean 68 minutes of monochrome. As in the drollest short stories, every moment of the movie has to pull its weight. Crucially, the pacing is just right we build and build from a very low-key start, as recovering alcoholic Ivan (Musevski) is sent by his wife Sonja (Savic) to buy groceries. On his way back home he bumps into an old pal and is persuaded to visit The Tavern bar for old times sake. As night falls, good intentions are soon swept aside as Ivan rapidly falls off the wagon, with catastrophic consequences for all: Ivan, his son Robi (Troha), who turns up in the Tavern toilets shooting heroin, and Sonja, who eventually arrives to see whats happened to that bread and milk…

It doesn’t sound much like a comedy, but the disasters escalate so quickly and cruelly that they spiral into crazy farce: think Some Mothers Do ave Em, as written by Raymond Carver. But the film isn’t just an acid, black (and white) joke: with the minimum of effort, Cvitkovic captures the atmosphere of this town (Tolmin) by night, especially The Tavern. Identified in the credits as the Hamurabi Bar, this scruffy pub becomes one of the movies great dives: If this town is Eden, then this Tavern is the apple reads scrawled graffiti on the wall outside. On another wall, there’s the legend Love never dies, under which Robi slumps among cardboard boxes in lesser hands, the irony would be too cheap, but Cvitkovic knows he can get away with it if he takes things to sufficient extremes. And he pulls it off, loading Ivan with truly Job-like afflictions, only faltering at the very end: the director builds to a terrific dirty-poetic image, only to cobble on a poem, a dedication, and a final shot that goes just a step too far. At 67 minutes, this really would have been something special.

12th December, 2001
(seen Dec-8-01, Sakala Keskus, Tallinn, Estonia Black Nights Film Festival)

Why not read our interview with the director Jan Cvitkovic

by Neil Young