By Sharon Calingasan
Director: Jan Cvitkovic
Slovenian comedy Siska Deluxe is the story of a beautiful friendship between three men, each of whom has endured their own personal failures and life struggles. Mile (Marko Miladinovic) still lives with his mother; Fedr (Fodransperg Ziga) is separated from his wife and daughter; and ex-punk Zekir (David Furlan) is an orphan. Each of them is unique in personality and background but all three seem to be stuck in a certain spot, penniless and just barely managing to get by. When Fedr inherits a deceased aunt’s sewing shop, they debate on what to do with it and a business enterprise in the form of a pizzeria comes into fruition.
Director Cvitkovic genuinely captures the strong bond between these three characters, who treat each other not only as friends but as brothers. They laugh at each other’s mistakes, they even tend to bully each other but there is never an instant where these friends are brutal or insensitive. While the men admit that they’re on a downward slope, they struggle to find a means to improve their lives, to never quit and to have a steady income.
Despite what seems to be a gloomy future ahead of them, our heroes find hope through the deserted sewing shop. Zekir’s passion for pizza-making gets things going and they invite their friends to celebrate its opening. Yet, as they always say, having a business has its risks – and, for this unique trio, the risks are plenty. Viewers may even pick up one or two tips on how to set up a business from watching Mile, Fedr and Zekir’s arduous struggle. They know nothing of the practices of their trade and, while they make efforts to advertise their business, it is only through the help of Jana (Prepeluh Jana), a hobo they befriend, that they finally put into practice some creative and successful ways to get their shop noticed.
While the film primarily follows the trio’s journey to find meaning in their life by establishing a pizzeria that they can be proud of, Cvitkovic also gives viewers a peek into the personal lives of these men. Mile, who is secretly gay, is very fond of his mother but indignant towards his father, who resurfaces after twenty long years. Fedr, beneath his well-tattooed body, is a softie who dearly loves his daughter and estranged wife with whom he wants to reconcile. The orphaned Zekir, on the other hand, is a wanderer who ultimately falls for their hobo friend Jana. It’s strange but endearing to think how these three men click, and while viewers can see that they share the same passion for betting and having a good time, still, one can’t help but wonder how these three middle-agers of fairly different character can come together so perfectly.
This comedic feel-good film from Cvitkovic features a list of bankable Yugoslavian stars. The three leads all give stellar performances but it is Fodransperg Ziga’s turn as tattooed skinhead Fedr that regularly steals the limelight for the balance the actor strikes between Fedr’s hard-as-a-crab’s-shell exterior and his soft-as-cotton interior. He is boisterous, a drunkard and rebellious but his unconditional love for his daughter Lili and wife Kristina remains admirable. Of the supporting cast, Mile’s mother, portrayed by Marijana Brecelj and the young Lili, played by Marjuta Slamic, are worthy of special mention. Brecelj, a well-respected theater and film actress in her homeland, breezes through the role as Mama Olga, with loving, motherly gazes and a sensitive nature. Slamic as Lili is naturally hilarious, naughty and very smart-aleck for her age. Credit is also due to the musical department for the catchy and hip scoring that adds to the good vibe of the movie.
Indeed, director Cvitkovic, noted for comedy-dramas like Bread and Milk and Gravehopping, has done it again with a film that potently touches on issues of family, self-acceptance, love, forgiveness and more. Beyond the film’s wacky sensibilities and absurd humor lies a heartwarming and engaging celebration of friendship, human relationships and the lighter side of life.
Watch Siska Deluxe on FilmDoo.com.