(director/writer: Sara Kern; cinematographer: Lev Predan Kowarski; editors: Hayley Miro Browne, Haim Tabakman; cast: Loti Kovacic (Moja), Mackenzie Mazur (Vesna), Gregor Bakovic (Milos), Flora Feldman (Danger), Claudia Karvan (Miranda), Rosanna Sciulli (Nurse); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Gal Greenspan, Rok Bicek, Sharlene George; Cvinger Film; 2022-Australia/Slovenia-in English & Slovenian, with English subtitles)

“Slow moving but intense drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Slovenian-Australian filmmaker Sara Kern directs and writes this slow moving but intense drama. In her feature film debut, Kern expands on her award-winning short Vesna Goodbye.

It’s about a Slovenian family living in a rental in the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, who are grieving after the recent loss of their mother (a probable suicide). The shy ten-year-old Moja (Loti Kovacic) is trying her best to be like mom in her absence, not believing mom is really gone. While her 20-year-old pregnant single sister, Vesna (Mackenzie Mazur), deals with the loss by expressing her bitter feelings through poetry. This allows her to find some relief from mom’s tragedy and her unwanted pregnancy by at least escaping from the reality she can’t handle.

The girls live with their inadequate father, Milos (Gregor Backovic), who is too overcome with loss to act like a father should.

The saddened family do not talk to each other about what has happened, and accept living in a joyless household.

The helpful Moja searches everywhere for baby items to give her sister, and thereby meets the helpful Miranda (Claudia Karvan) and her free-spirited 10-year-old daughter Danger (Flora Feldman). The strangers will try to help the family cope with their loss while they’re still in a state of shock.

The talented cast give heartfelt performances, in this emotionally moving indie drama that could be grim but was also touching and worth seeing. Loti’s performance was exceptional.

REVIEWED ON 2/12/2024  GRADE: A-