The new film “Clip” by Maja Milos continues on in the spirit of recent Serbian cinema that dwells in explicit sexuality mixed with explicit violence. The film tells the tale of a teenage girl named Jasna (Isidora Simijonovic) who spends her time shooting video clips of herself in sexually suggestive poses when she is not engaging in wild sex or drinking and drugging herself into a stupor. The picture painted is of youths gone astray in contemporary Serbia. Nothing quite new either thematically or stylistically but once again, the film becomes interesting for continuing the trend of hardcore sex in mainstream Serbian cinema.
The extent of the hardcore sex is conspicuous in trying to push boundaries not to shock but rather it seems to render such acts mundane. With all of its full frontal nudity, tangible ejaculations, and fetish games the film seems made for an audience that is accustomed to pornographic content, or perhaps to introduce an audience to such content housed in the haven of art cinema. Indeed the children in the film play act as porno stars and seem awfully advanced in their sexuality for their age. Is this because the director wills it so or because young kids really do express themselves in extreme sexual manners as a regular way of life? To ask that question is something of a red herring because it would assign an objective to the film, which we should not take for granted that it has.
“Clip” won the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, given to work by promising young directors with promising young films. Of course, if we want to be political about it, one must question the choice of this award if only to ascertain whether the brutal depictions of life in Serbia cater to stereotypes and soothe foreign preconceptions about the barbaric Balkans rather than challenge them. To be fair the film is very well-made with crisp and sumptuous digital cinematography — all the better to render the semen shots in glorious detail. The performances by the entire young cast are first rate and rendered in such a visceral and mimetic manner that a disclaimer runs before the closing credits stating that no young people were involved in any sexual activities. Truth be told a concern about this ran through my head while watching the film, which would confirm the gritty sexual realism that “Clip” traffics in. Shall we celebrate the director for suspending our disbelief so seamlessly? For “telling the truth” about Serbian youth in such a naked manner? For winning an award at a major festival?
And what to make of that final shot? Jasna’s boyfriend, in a fit of jealous rage, punches her in the mouth in the middle of a house party, sending her to the ground a bloody mess. She hops up and attacks him, he turns around and grabs her, and they share a passionate kiss smeared red with blood. The end. Clearly we know where the young people in “The Life and Death of a Porno Gang” came from, and how they grew into adults in “A Serbian Film”. I would like to call “Clip” a prequel and to celebrate the director for taking part in a macabre incidental trilogy of sorts with her fellow filmmakers Srdjan Spasojevic and Mladen Djordjevic in investigating the sexual politics that plague modern life in Serbia.