JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Loss (Director: Maris Martinsons) - January 23, 2009
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Loss

Nereikalingi zmones

2.5 2.5
96 min.

Reviewed at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Six degrees of desperation

Maris Martinsons’ intentions were well-meaning, yet Unnecessary People (a much better translation than the English-language promotional title Loss) lost its important message as the truly incredulous plot points fell into their coincidence-laden place then slipped away into the dim background.

The plight of unwanted children continues its unrelenting course on every corner of the globe. Whether through war, natural catastrophe, “leaky” condoms, spousal violence or all manner of accidents and fires, our modern world still cannot find the collective compassion or will to serve and protect our most vulnerable population (some would say the same for seniors, but at least they got to become “old”).

Instead, Martinson (and co-screenwriter Raimondas Paskevicius) have populated this challenging (audience and actors) film with Ben—a washed-up, entrepreneur/lover/drunk (Kostas Smoriginas)—his ex (Dalia Micheleviciute) who, despite a horrific car crash that saw the end of one leg and any chance at conception, completes her empty existence through adoption. Best friend Laima (Daiva Tamosiunaite) has, literally, fucked her way into a position of commercial power (replacing Ben) only to find perpetual loneliness even as her financial freedom seems secure.

Valda (Valda Bickute) is one of Ben’s cellphone harem who produced a baby that had to be relocated to a crowded orphanage, forcing the penniless mom to Ireland to find employment and raise enough cash to pluck her artistically inclined son from the clutches of the Matron of the Damned (Dalia Brenciute).

Stop the press.

Without doubt, the finest sequence of all came from the covey of hopeful abandoned children sporting “Pick me!“ stares as a potential saviour enters their special purgatory to liberate one of their number. The subsequent retakes of despondency (with the metaphoric wide-open gate silently laughing at the inability of those who remain to land a protector), burn forever into our hearts and memory—especially to those of us who have never known how it must feel to be an orphan.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, a saviour of a wholly different sort comes in the parsonage of the local priest (Andrius Mamontovas). This man-of-the-cloth (and a gleaming earring, purposely bought as his life finds its way to confession) has embraced his calling under false pretences (the perpetual guilt—stereotypical Catholic is not without some real-life examples).

The entire cast (whose stories unfold in a non-linear fashion and frequently—Gints Berzins, cinematographer—rendered with The Blair Witch Project queasiness and heavy grain) give their all (notably the shamelessly-repulsive Ben) only to be overwhelmed by a narrative intent on tying up every twist even as the institutionalization of bewildered innocents continues to increase by leaps and bonds to this day. JWR

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