Review: Snitch (2019)

courtesy of Zagreb Film Festival

The worlds of adults and teenagers are quite different, although they exist in the same space. The unwritten rules, priorities and codes of conduct are the key difference between them. Those parallelly running universes clash over something that could be read as a mischief of teen rowdy or as a serious felony in Rino Barbir’s film Snitch. The winner of the last year’s Checkers competition at Zagreb Film Festival premiered internationally at this year’s online edition of Sarajevo Film Festival.

We meet our protagonist Deni (Franko Jakovčević) in what he perceives as a transformative moment. The camera is pointed at the mirror, in which we see his reflection and the hand of somebody who actually makes the transformation happening. The other person is his single, caring, but overbearing mother (Lana Barić). The kid changes his style and his attitude to fit in with the crowd of his school friedns.

Little he realizes how much of a bad company it is. The gang lead by Kele (Roko Grubišić) puts pressure on Deni to act in certain ways, to be rough and tough. After they falsely alarm the police about a bomb in their school (which sounds grave, but actually is a bit of a classic stunt in the region of the former Yugoslavia), Deni gets into more trouble than he could handle and he must chose whether to listen to his mother or to remain loyal to his friends under the vigilant eye of the police personalized through the character of the inspector played by Goran Marković. To snitch or not to snitch, that is the question…

Snitch is more powerful in its first half, during the exposition of the characters, when it shows their standpoints and the dynamics between them. Horseplay between friends quickly turns into peer pressure and bullying, where acting tough does not necessarily mean being tough. Realistically shot, in Cinemascope that highlights the rough, concrete urban vista of Split projects, by almost exclusively hand-held camera operated by Tomislav Sutlar, and accompanied by the soundtrack composed of the Croatian and Serbian trap hits, Snitch plays almost like an anthropological study with Deni as an example.

Aware that the viewers probably know Deni’s type of behaviour and that it is not that hard to read his attitude, the screenwriters Barbir and Šime Šitum shift the focus from him to his mother and her reactions, putting the spotlight on the professional actress Lana Barić in the process. That proves to be a good choice, since the actress is more than capable to pull it off in an effortless fashion. It is a rare occasion (and a welcoming change) to be able to see a parent’s reaction to teenagers’ behavior in cinema, especially in the short format.

Original title: Druker
Year: 2019
Runtime: 18’ 32’’
Country: Croatia
Language: Croatian
Directed by: Rino Barbir
Written by: Šime Šitum, Rino Barbir
Cast: Franko Jakovčević, Lana Barić, Roko Grubišić, Goran Marković, Filip Tomičić, Jere Čović
Cinematography by: Tomislav Sutlar
Editing by: Marko Ferković
Sound design by: Frano Homen
Sound by: Marko Grgić
Production design by: Boris Sekulić
Costume design by: Ana Marin
Make-up by: Iva Kurobaša
Assistant director: Dora Prpić
Produced by: Dora Prpić
Production companies: Blank, Kinoklub Split, Komakino
Supported by: Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC)