Despite a fine lead performance, this promising satire about religion and society in Macedonia fails to carry through on its interesting setup
What begins as a sprightly, shrewd, visually striking satire from Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska deflates in its second act into something unconvincing, sophomoric and dramatically redundant. It simply runs out of ideas. A shame – because there was an interesting idea there, inspired by a true story with the makings of a good performance from Zorica Nusheva in the lead role. Sadly, she is given little in the way of script or direction to develop the role.
Nusheva plays Petrunya, a woman in her 30s, still humiliatingly living at home with her mum and dad in the eastern Macedonian town of Štip – unemployed despite a good college degree in history. Her preferred subject is the Chinese revolution, not – as a law officer later pointedly asks – Alexander the Great, that patriotic hero. After yet another failed job interview, during which a creepy manager did nothing more than make s****l advances before announcing he found her neither attractive nor suitable for employment, Petrunya trudges home to find herself in the middle of a crowd of young men about to participate a traditional Macedonian religious custom to celebrate the Orthodox Epiphany. They are preparing to jump into the river, competing to see who can retrieve the cross thrown into it by the priest.