Loving Glances is a Croatian romantic comedy with a concept that is probably foreign to many of us—searching for love when you are a refugee.
it's 1995, and post-war Croatia is full of Serbian refugees (I sure hope I have these country names right—social studies was never my strong subject). But it's a man named Swan—(or Labud) (Senad Alihodzic) who is looking for love. Actually, he's looking for his fiancée, Vida, who has disappeared to America. He has no way of finding her, and is hoping that a dating service can locate her. Problem is, the dating service is not permitted to put refugees in contact with those in the U.S., a person in the U.S. would have to request a refugee profile through the dating service. In his loneliness, and hope of having his fiancée come looking for him, Swan lives in a VERY Ally McBeal-esque world in which he sees people (some dead, some not) who aren't actually there. In his fantasy world, his mother is always around, sitting in a red easy chair and nagging him. Then there's a professor who is constantly reading his own love poetry out loud to Swan. And finally, he even has an ongoing relationship with Vida herself, who is a hairdresser. So, while he sits tight, waiting for his love to find him from overseas, the unexpected happens. The dating service links him up with Romana (Ivan Bolanca), a woman who lives in Belgrade, too. Neither expects to find love with each other, since they are both looking for loves they've lost. In fact, Romana ALSO sees people who aren't actually there, including her sex-crazed ex-boyfriend. So, as the two hope desperately to find the loves of their lives, they go to various functions and excursions planned by the dating service, which turns into an almost incestuous situation, as all the regular members of the dating service vie for each other's attention. Will Swan fall for Romana, or will he patiently await the return of the non-imaginary Vida?
I enjoyed the new twist on romantic comedy, which brings us closer to the term "refugee" to reveal that there are actual individual people behind that word who have hopes, dreams and desires. Nice change of pace. Swan's cast of imaginary friends is quite funny and used to great comic effect, and he is adorable in the role. What also is a plus for me is that the movie doesn't weigh down with any real serious focus on issues of refugees or countries in conflict (which would just confuse my simple, carefree brain). It doesn't become a political piece. It stays light and fun. But that's not to say it doesn't have its flaws. The problem for me kicked in about half way through the movie. First off, the joke of the imaginary friends begins to where mighty thin because it's constant. Secondly, once Romana comes on the scene with her imaginary clan, it's very easy to begin losing sight of who is real and who isn't! Especially considering that the REAL Vida eventually enters the picture…so there are basically TWO Vida's running around on screen. Things began getting somewhat convoluted, and, considering most of us also have to read subtitles as we watch, it is easy to lose focus of what's going on. And even if you do hang in there and continue following the fine line between fantasy/reality, the film does end up getting somewhat routine by the end—which is standard for romantic comedies I guess. However, I usually want to see the couple work it out in the end. In this film, I wasn't feeling any major spark between the two romantically involved leads. Maybe it's just me. I don't know. Either way, I still think there's some fun to be had out of watching this simple, fun film.
This one's a little deceiving. First off, the movie is 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Now, I first began watching the movie in progressive scan, and this is what I found. There was gorgeous contrast between the blacks and the colors. There seemed to be a hint of edge enhancement and softness, yet overall, the image was still sharp and offered great depth. There were hints of specks, but they weren't too bad. This is all fine and dandy—but at some point in the viewing, I turned off progressive scan. Yikes! The pictures was muddy, and the colors bled together a bit, and there was even some pixilation. So, my advice—get yourself a progressive scan hookup and be amazed.
The audio track is 2.0 stereo. There's some strong bass to be had, and the 2 channel separation was clear, with some nice traveling effects. At times, there was a distinct simulation of actual surround. Pretty impressive.
The main menu shows clips from the movie. Scene Selection offers 12 chapters. English subtitles can be turned on or off. Other than that, extras are:
DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT—5 text pages explaining why the director made this movie about refugees. This text has a heavy social tone, and is very misleading if you read it before watching this light film (as I did, which had me wrongly dreading what I was about to see).
PRODUCTION NOTES—2 text pages, once again, some heavy stuff. Describes social and political upheaval that put the production on hold and moved the filming location.
TRAILERS—trailers for four films: My Wife Maurice, 800 Bullets, Fuehrer EX, Gun-Shy.
Loving Glances takes romantic comedy in a few new directions—with a focus on dating services for lonely refugees, and slightly dysfunctional love interests who both live in fantasy worlds. Imagine J.D. from Scrubs dating Ally McBeal, and you can understand how confusing things can get. Still and all, there are some very charming and funny moments in this movie that make it worth a glance—albeit, a LIKING glance more than a loving glance….