The Pathology of Love- review by Tea Šegon 


As a part of the STIFF’s  educational program Dean Durić held a workshop on  film review & criticism for 10 selected students. Throughout this week some of the best student film reviews will be published on our web.

“Bright and warm colors of the landscape, music, and editing make this movie flow and leave the viewer breathless and lost. The naked bodies in the final scenes of the movie absolutely match the openness of the film and allow us to see what our relationships can turn into, whether they are love affairs or friendships. “

written by Tea Šegon

translation by Virna Car


Art Theater Croatia in Rijeka was the host of the first student film festival (STIFF). Between May 26th and May 30th, the audience had a chance to view many excellent student films from all over the world. I was immediately drawn to two very human, morbid and fascinating films form the cycle Strange loves

Igra (The Game),Pedro Coutinho; Brazil,

 Game (2013) is a short film by the Brazilian director Pedro Coutihna whose obvious purpose was to taunt with the innocent minds of the viewers. If the storyline of this movie is to be placed within a genre, it surely isn’t a typical road movie. A young couple (named Julia and Fred) enters a conflict during an idyllic weekend; which is a familiar scene we all encountered during our lives.

Boredom, routine and empty words in relationships are something each of us can relate to. Framing Julia’s face and placing Fred’s character in front of the viewer at the beginning of the film, Coutigno lets us know that she is the character we must follow while Fred is just a mediator that allows us to understand Julia’s liberation and the end of this affair. A significant turn in the plot is the scene in the public restroom that Julia accidentally walks in on. Two scantily clad women are having a sordid and open conversation about sex. This conversation is a turning point in Julia’s life. From an inactive and inferior person, Julia transforms into a seductive temptress and a whore and starts seducing the stranger that Fred has turned into. Roles that we take on every day are intertwined with other people’s roles and this is something Coutihno skillfully and almost romantically portraits in his scenes. Two young people are playing into the sexual fantasy of every average male in which his very own wife/lover/girlfriend decides to be a whore and a temptress, but for his eyes only. From experience and habit, we all know that things change by nightfall. Passion, jealousy, feeling superior, the need to assert one’s ownership, mixed with alcohol and sensual music which Coutinho skillfully incorporates into the crucial scene that resolves Julia’s and Fred’s relationship. At this moment, I almost thought that this story has a happy ending and that Fred, the typical possessive bastard, understands that insinuating betrayal leads to nothing except decline into madness when the tables have turned; thanks to Coutinho, Fred once again astounded me. The plot twist in this film  is the most human and the most morbid thing I have seen in a very long time.

What is love except a pathological need to completely possess another person? To humiliate, break and erase all that is human because of power and in order to prove that the one who seduces has all the power. The seduced ones are inferior and their purpose is to submit and fulfill the seducer’s every desire – in this case, every man’s desire. In my opinion, Couthino managed to depict the power of human relationships in the short, but rich 19 minutes of this film – something longer movies about the same or similar topic failed to do. Bright and warm colors of the landscape, music, and editing make this movie flow and leave the viewer breathless and lost. The naked bodies in the final scenes of the movie absolutely match the openness of the film and allow us to see what our relationships can turn into, whether they are love affairs or friendships. Rape as an act of humiliation, submission and abuse is a rarely accepted topic, but Coutihno fulfilled his task well and expressed criticism towards modern love. Love is not owning someone, love is respecting and cherishing someone.


Dim (Smoke), Sarra Tsorakidis; Romania,

Smoke (2013) by the Romanian filmmaker Sarra Tsorakidis is completely different for the already mentioned movie Game, but its plot is related to the same topic. Jealousy gnaws even on those who are the strongest and the most optimistic, if we let go to it. Optimism, childlike curiosity and vice are what can lead to trouble, but also bring out the best in us.

It is said that too be young is to be foolish which is a fact Tsotakidis amusingly tries to depict in this movie using humor. The main protagnost, Nica, after spending the night with Bogdan, decides to wait for him in his apartment so they can continue to socialize. The interior is oozing with hedonism, youth and rebelliousness and allow a shallow glimpse into what Bogdan could be like. The superficially depicted personality of the male character makes us curious about what he looks like. Bogdan is, both to the audience and to Nica, a mystery that is yet to be discovered. Simple long scenes with Nica in the close-up show us her playfulness and make the audience wonder what she will do next and when will this Bogdan person finally return. The movie is laden with Nica’s boredom, expectation and impatience. Snooping around her lover’s apartment, she finds all sorts of illegal things that amuse her. The first part of the movie leaves little room for finding deeper meanings, but the movie changes when Bogdan and his co-worker return. Taking into consideration the gun Nica is playing with – not knowing whether it is real or not – Bogdan’s return and the way the situation develops after that, make things much clearer. Nica is either too serious or not up to the situation she is in – Bogdan has embraced the other woman after they’ve both shown interest for Nica. Jealousy is, as mentioned before, a strong incentive for human actions are reactions and Nica slowly lets herself go and reacts to what she’s seen and experienced. Trying to find her moment of peace and trying to escape the scene with Bogdan, she decides to go home, leaving the lovers a very clear message. Fire and burning things is a symbol of cleansing, catharsis and sacrificing what once was in order to create something new as well as revenge and fulfilling one’s own satisfaction.

The film has a comic conclusion, and fully depicts the need for the simplest of solutions to conflicts – burning everything, turning everything to smoke. In today’s modern time we encounter similar situations because love has become conformist and expendable. The consumerist society has made us see love as expendable and with a short expiration date which, in my opinion, Tsorakidis managed to show in this movie. Make everything funny and positive, draw the short end of the stick and move on.

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