From Macedonia comes Svetozar Ristovski’s raw, visceral drama “Mirage” about a 12-year-old named Marko who is living the worst of all worlds. His family life if a hell – a drunken father, a cold mother and an insulting slut of an older sister – and his school environment is ruled by bullies who shake down weaker students for money. A rare ray of hope comes in the chance to participate in a pan-European poetry contest being held in Paris, yet Marko’s opportunity for literary success seems futile amid the chaos and cruelty around him.
“Mirage” is not, by any stretch, a pleasant film to endure. In fact, its harshness may agitate those who are not used to such a bleak depiction of life. Ristovski’s vision of a sensitive child systematically destroyed by a climate of hostility is both a dramatic indictment of emotional abuse and a deft attempt to parlay an allegory on the state of today’s tumultuous Macedonian society (although the latter concept may be lost on those unfamiliar with the happenings of that still-unstable Balkan republic).
The true power of the film comes from young Marko Kovacevic, who plays the poetic child lost in a family and culture where poetry has no meaning. With his haunting gaze and enigmatic presence, he is a marvelous young actor who essays his point with an uncommon grace and power. His remarkable performance will resonate with those who are fortunate to encounter this disturbing and highly original film.