FANTASTIC FEST 2023 REVIEW! The one thing I love about foreign films is they can tell stories that could never be told under the progressive Hollywood system. Croatian co-writer/co-directors David Kapac and Andrija Mardesic tell a story of a family at Christmas in The Uncle. It is wrong on all levels, and the ending will piss off the fragile and sensitive.
Olec (Goran Bogdan), Majka (Ivana Roscic), and their son, Sin (Roko Sikavica), are preparing for a Christmas visit from their Uncle Stric (Predrag “Miki” Manojlovic). The trio works feverishly to prepare the “perfect” dinner. Already, the night is ruined when Majka breaks a plate because now the place settings won’t match. To top it off, Sin is wearing the same Christmas sweater from last year.
Like clockwork, Uncle Stric arrives and demands a hug from his brother. He then proceeds to commend Sin on being his favorite nephew and snaps Majka’s bra strap while complementing her perky breasts. The feast is tense as the family tries desperately to appease every one of Stric’s criticisms. Majka is put off by his constant berating of her parenting style, and when nothing else could go wrong, Majka burns the cookies. At least Christmas is over. But, a few days later, Uncle Stric returns to the house, and the family reenacts the exact same Christmas dinner, greetings, and conversation from before. The process repeats over and over in a sort of sadistic Groundhog Day loop.
“…Uncle Stric returns to the house, and the family reenacts the exact same Christmas dinner…”
The Uncle is a very dark comedic thriller, but it’s more dark than funny. This Christmas plays over several times throughout the film, and unlike Groundhog Day, there’s no magic. There’s a reason Uncle Stric keeps coming back to replay the same Christmas night over and over again and a reason why the family goes along with it. When it’s revealed at the start of the second act, everything gets really twisted.
I’m leaving a lot out for spoiler’s sake. There are twists and turns galore and a bit of psychological torture being inflicted with each inflection. I’ll mention several instances of hand jobs and masturbation and leave it at that. The story then gets creepy, leading to an ending that is unsatisfying according to American standards. I love it.
I wish I could tell you more, but the cast gives outstanding, understated performances. As secrets are revealed, the subtext of their characters’ becomes crystal clear as the puzzle pieces are laid into place. It’s killing me that I can’t say more. See The Uncle as soon as possible.
The Uncle screened at the 2023 Fantastic Fest.
"…twists and turns galore and a bit of psychological torture..."