Review: Nine Months (2020)

courtesy of Zagreb Film Festival /

The prolific Croatian filmmaker Josip Lukić continues his “auto-fiction” phase with his newest work Nine Months. The mood is the same low-key depression as in his previous film White Christmas, but the landscape is different: he is back in his hometown of Split, and it is summertime. The colours and the sounds, however, could persuade us that it is not. It seems that the harsh Bora wind always blows and the landscape tends to dissolve in bland colours. The conclusion is that the inner depression colours the reality.

Nine Months premiered at the Checkers competition of Zagreb Film Festival, highlighting the irony that Lukić playing himself as the protagonist here once again wears the festival T-shirt in every frame of the film. There are also other clues, like some of his regular cast members (including his iconic mother Dragica Pavlović, the star of his mid-length documentary Momsy and his nephew Marko Nazlić we saw in Momsy’s follow-up The Rex Will Sail In), his old-timer green car also makes a cameo appearance for no reason whatsoever and other autobiographical clues pop-up, some of them even in the title, which is about the age of his dog Casper who is the only living thing that makes him move, but also the time he spent at his childhood home due to the lockdown.

But Nine Months is not a documentary after all, as it is more of an etude of a non-narrative fiction film that focuses on the state of things and someone’s person. There is almost no “action” in the film other than mundane things like dog-walking, watching the TV in the company of the mother (the choice of the TV programme is rather peculiar, to put it mildly), awkward attempts at conversation and the existential worries that bug our protagonist.

Lukić is quite ambitious here, trying to transfer the inner state of himself as the filmmaker and his fictional self to the medium of film. The success rate of it is not perfect, since the content of the film will puzzle many, even among those who are familiar with his work, but it is a note-worthy attempt and, at times, an insight to the unpleasantly bizarre world of neurosis, depression, personal and societal crisis.

Original title: Devet mjeseci
Year: 2020
Runtime: 21’
Country: Croatia
Language: Croatian
Directed by: Josip Lukić
Written by: Josip Lukić
Cast: Josip Lukić, Dragica Pavlović, Roko Sikavica, Andrija Tomić, Marko Nazlić, Ivan Trpimir Lozić, Casper
Cinematography by: Marinko Marinkić
Editing by: Sandro Baraba
Sound design by: Dino Ljuban
Sound recording by: Marinko Marinkić, Josip Lukić
Produced by: Marin Leo Janković
Production company: Academy of the Dramatic Arts (ADU) Zagreb