02-07-2011

Anarchy in Zirmunai / Anarchija Zirmunuose

Anarchy in Zirmunai (Anarchija Zirmunuose)
PERSPECTIVES
Dir. Saulius Drunga

The detective-like plot development is what fuels our interest in the movie, the title of which includes the word “anarchy” and the name of the dormitory district in Vilnius dating back to the late Soviet period. On the soundtrack we hear the phrase “Lithuanian mess” at least a couple of dozens of times. It is the only way to force outsiders to look into something they generally don’t want to hear about: mysteries, closed societies (which we are promised to be led into), hazards on the way to uncovering as yet unseen mechanisms. Everybody likes that.

In the opening sequence we see a frail youth with a big head on a thin neck photographed from behind. He is wearing a heavy spiked bracelet on his thin wrist. He runs up a few flights of stairs, rings a bell, demands rent from a young tenant. When it turns out that she can’t pay, she gets a blow between the eyes and we get the opening titles against the black background.

Next it is a hot summer day. We are in a sleepy suburban train heading to Vilnius through bucolic Lithuanian landscapes as we listen to the chatter of girls from the provinces and farms. The word “anarchy” is heard. One of the girls draws the menacing encircled “A” on the newspaper margins. The blond Ville, fed on fresh milk, stares at the “A”. She has cut off her tress and intends to enter the pedagogical institute in the capital. Her bag is filled with cans with mother’s jam and in solving the Zirmunuose mystery the letter “A” is our Miss Marple. If the detective-like structure is the locomotive, the actress Toma Vaskeviciute is the anchor of the movie. She is reminiscent of the young Di Caprio of the times of “This Boy's Life” and “What's Eating Gilbert Grape” not only in appearance. With her ironic squint and studied absent-minded look on her pretty face she signals the mental processes going on in the involuntary detective’s head and gives a wink to the viewer that now is the time to put two and two together. It goes without saying that Ville will rent that very flat, that the youngster will turn out to be a fidgety girl called Sandra who looks and behaves like a starved Annette Bening if the latter were to experience the tribulations of her characters from “In Dreams” “Hostage” and “American Beauty” all at once. Sandra will gradually let Ville on to the secrets of “Anarchy”, one of which is (straight from “Five Orange Pips”) the presence of one or more letters “a” in the spelling of the name, which lets you become a member of “Anarchy” and live under its protection.

I don’t feel like giving away the detective pot, but it is important to note that the peasant Ville will delve into the study of the subject deeper than she would have liked to, or than could have been imagined by girls and boys stitching the capital letter “A” on their jackets. She will go the Institute library and soon her flat will be filled not only with the guns and dollars stored by “Anarchy” members, but with copies of Che Gevara’s posters and Bakunin’s writings. The anarchy in Zirmunae will show its true wimpy face of deeply hurt children with too many hang-ups. Ville will watch it complete the circle – like a snake biting its own tale – with a mop in “McBurger’s”. Ville alone will learn what real anarchy is. A movie about the Lithuanian mess will turn out to be a familiar maxim relevant in any country and at any time that “knowledge is power”. That basic education and probably a pair of Ville’s sturdy peasant legs are necessary for a noble revolt instead of ridiculous outbreaks of hysterical misbehavior. And besides it also requires – as the movie will prove – at least one can of mother’s real home-made jam.

Alexey Vasiliev