Although biographical films are one of the most popular film genres, they are a rarity in domestic cinematography and I must admit that I was delighted to hear that a film was being made about Tomo Zdravković, a famous folk singer whose records sold millions in the former SFRY. . This is another work by Dragan Bjelogrlić (together with Zoran Lisinac), an actor who has been proving himself for a good decade as an excellent screenwriter and director. The film had its world premiere at the closing of the 27th Sarajevo Film Festival, and by coincidence, I watched the film on the 30th anniversary of the singer’s death.
The script signed by the quartet of authors presents the singer’s path from humble beginnings to the peak of fame, his turbulent love life that inspired him to write and compose some of the greatest hits of folk music, as well as relationships with many friends he had in art circles. The film follows two actions in parallel. In one, we follow the relationship between Tom and the doctor who dealt with his treatment and how their acquaintance turns into friendship. The second follows his life from childhood, through his acquaintance with the queen of sevdalinka, Silvana Armenulić, who will decisively influence his life, until the day of his greatest glory and fight against prostate cancer.
Toma Zdravković is a legendary singer who is remembered not only for his famous songs and the way he performed them, but also for his behavior and soul, for being the definition of a bohemian, a charmer, a charmer and a gentleman. It reached unprecedented heights of popularity, but it also reached the bottom. After watching the film, even those who are not familiar with the work of this man will appreciate his melancholic compositions, warm baritone and the kindness with which he exuded.
As I mentioned, the singer found inexhaustible inspiration for his sad ballads in his turbulent love life, which consisted of unhappy or lost loves and disappointments. Starting from the first love that is presented to us throughout the film as a ghostly figure of Ruško, through unrequited love for Silvana Armenulić with whom he worked intensively, all the way to the infidelity of one of his wives. I believe that influenced him to be so vicious, considering that he was rarely seen without a glass of alcohol and without cigarettes, and that he liked to gamble. This man’s aura left a hint of innate sadness and self-destruction.
The film is designed to reach the widest audience and the producers have definitely succeeded in that. Apart from the popularity of this singer and his songs, I believe that the factors of nostalgia and sentimentality for some better, past times significantly influenced the ratings. Recreations of famous cafes and the bohemian way of life, numerous anecdotes, people of different nationalities who were popular in certain circles – all the ingredients to successfully escape from everyday life and problems are there. The singer’s death coincides with the period of the beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, so the sources of tension that can be felt towards the end of the film can easily be both events.
The part of the story that follows Tom’s relationship with the doctor covers a period of several months, while the part of the story that follows his life stretches over thirty years and the timeline jumps between decades back and forth. As is usually the case with biographical films, individuals are likely to be annoyed that some parts of Tom’s life have been simplified or skipped (for example, the singer had four wives, not to mention all of them). Objectively, this film was made with the intention of being a cinema hit and playing on the emotions of the viewers, so the time period it covers is simply too long to go into details.
The film occasionally features characters from many celebrities who further enrich the film, including celebrated singers such as Tozovac, Cunet and Zdravko Colic, poet Mika Antic, and actor Zoran Radmilovic. There are a few subplots that are probably left to develop through the television series, which has become a practice for movies that do well at the box office. As expected, the melodrama is overemphasized in several scenes, but I think there is no need to take it as a minus for two reasons – domestic filmmakers should always have a lot more credit and yet this is an artistic display in which authors have the right to use their artistic freedom. Ultimately, it is always better to enjoy what is being seen than to try to look for flaws.
I watched Milan Marić in series Besa i Civil servant and I wasn’t really sure that he would physically look like Tomo Zdravković in the first place. He lost a few kilograms, got a wig and a prosthetic nose and managed to faithfully present the singer’s charisma and charm. As expected, the voice had to be entrusted to someone much more musically savvy, so the popular singer Aco Pejović was in charge of it, who did his job perfectly. There are several scenes in which it is heard when Marić’s voice turns into Pejović’s, but that is not something the eye needs to split. Another respected singer and composer, Zeljko Joksimovic, was in charge of the original music, while Tamara Dragicevic as Silvana and Andrija Kuzmanovic as the manager of Drda left a great impression in the supporting roles.
Taking is a real refreshment in domestic cinematography, a melancholic biographical melodrama about a legendary singer that has all the cinematic elements for retelling and re-watching – a creative, colorful and romanticized story with a lot of music, emotions and soul.
my final grade: 9/10
Source: The Filmske Recenzije by filmskerecenzije.com.
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