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Mirage (Unrated)

Release Date: March 17th, 2006 (Quad Cinema) by Pictures This! Entertainment.
The Cast: Marko Kovacevic, Mustafa Nadarevic, Vlado Jovnovski, Nikola Djuricko, Dejan Acimovic, Elena Mosevska.
Directed by Svetozar Ristovski.
In Macedonian with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: When 12 year-old Marko (Kovacevic) gets bullied in school, he gradually enters a rebellious lifestyle.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Mirage suffers from a very long first act which includes scene after scene of Marko getting bullied and then going back to the impoverished abode of his dysfunctional family. A school teacher tries to point him in the right direction by encouraging him to hone his talent for poetry through a contest. Kovacevic does give an amazing performance as Marko and manages to make him into a sensitive, shy and relatively innocent young boy—until the second act, when he meets a mysterious loner. This loner basically teaches him how to shoot a gun and then disappears as if he were just a figment of Marko’s imagination —or perhaps he really is just a figment. Director Svetozar Ristovski changes genres from drama to suspense and tragedy, but his directing style and general tone doesn’t compliment any of those genres—neither does the cinematography help much. Along with screenwriter Grace Lea Troje, he fails to make Marko’s transformation into insanity seem organic and believable. It would have been interesting to include first-person voice-over narration from Marko or simply have him interact with others more often rather than just be a passive observer. When he becomes more active and rebellious, the plot gets too contrived, exaggerated and shocking.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Director Svetozar Ristovski definitely tries to say something about social conditions in Macedonia, but he just doesn’t have the real courage to say it clearly through Mirage . Young schoolchildren from poor homes get bullied everyday in all parts of the world, so what makes Marko so unique? He gets a chance to escape from his struggles by a friendly teacher who encourages him to pursue his love of poetry. The stranger he meets in the second act tells him the significance of the expression "eat or be eaten", but without any real insight. Marko doesn’t actually seem like the pensive type and it’s difficult to know what he’s really thinking or feeling—he just looks blank. When the depressing third act finally arrives, it’s difficult to feel anything for Marko other than pity.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Meandering, often boring plot with poor character development.


IN A NUTSHELL: Marko Kovacevic gives a terrific performance! However, a weak script with a meandering, boring plot becomes too shocking and unrealistic.


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