Macondo (2014)

Director: Sudabeh Mortezai
Writer: Sudabeh Mortezai
Cast: Ramasan MinkailovAslan ElbievKheda Gazieva
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Ramasan (Ramasan Minkailov) and his family fled from the war in Chechnya and came to Vienna where they’ve been living in an apartment complex filled with refugees. Since Ramasan’s father died, so it’s Ramasan who is considered the man of the house, a position reinforced by his knowledge of German that is much better than that of his mother Aminat (Kheda Gazieva). Then one day, Isa (Aslan Elbiev) shows up. He used to know Ramasan’s father and with that quickly becomes an object of Ramasan’s interest.

Macondo has many strengths, but as many weaknesses as well. While I liked it, it didn’t rise much above mediocrity.


The film isn’t a refugee drama, it’s a family drama that happens to be in an asylum seeker setting – and personally I thought that this was great. Even though the setting was fascinating – I had never heard of that complex before, despite having lived in Vienna for most of my life. Of course certain difficulties were made a topic, but above all it was about Ramasan and how he deals with the loss of his father.

For that, Mortezai remained firmly in Ramasan’s point of view – which was very well done. It was actually the perspective of a child and not of some precocious mini-adult. Of course that meant that Ramasan Minkailov had a lot to carry in the film. Fortunately, he was fantastic, so that works out just fine.


The problem is, though, that the story itself was lackluster. Everything was completely predictable, from the set-up to the resolution and it lacked subtlety, a fresh take. I thought that we had seen the very same conflict many times already and in exactly the way that Mortezai set it in scene – even though her direction was generally competent, there was a general lack of originality.

That lack meant that the film did have some lengths. When you know exactly what will happen next, you get impatient for it to happen and bored when it doesn’t happen straight away. And that’s ultimately where the film loses most of its charm.

macondo2Summarizing: competent but not great.

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