Film Reviews, Short Review

Čuvar plaže u zimskom periodu [Beach Guard in Winter] (1976)

3.5/4

One of the former Yugoslavia’s most accomplished directors, Goran Paskaljević’s first feature film is an overlooked gem in contrast to his more popular works. Beach Guard in Winter tells the story of Dragan (Irfan Mensur), an unemployed young man in Belgrade overburdened by his demanding father (Danilo Stojković) as he falls in love for the first time with Ljubica (Gordana Kosanović), despite the disapproval of her rich father. Paskaljević beautifully evokes the listlessness and aimlessness of mid-70s Yugoslav youths, capturing a very contemporary sense of dread as President Tito’s health began to fade and the country’s future was uncertain. Unsurprisingly for a first-time director there are some noticeable flaws; Kosanović, a fantastically talented actress who died at a tragically young age, is given a very underwritten character despite being a lead. However, Stojković, one Yugoslavia’s most legendary actors, steals the entire film. Usually typecast, for better or for worse, as a small-minded little man attempting to fight the system on his own, here he is both the film’s primary comic foil and its emotional ballast. His brilliant comedic timing is given plentiful room to shine, but the film becomes all the more poignant when the audience realises that we’re not just watching ‘another’ bumbling Stojković character: we’re watching a father who, for all his faults – his staunch traditionalism, his patronising tone, and his overestimation of his own influence – genuinely cares for his son and wants the best for him. Therein lies the strength of Beach Guard in Winter, a beautiful film from a director who would go on to forge an excellent body of work.

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