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Pirmdzimtais

Firstborn

Latvia 2017
produced by
Roberts Vinovskis for Locomotive Productions
directed by Aik Karapetian
starring Kaspars Znotins, Maija Doveika, Kaspars Zale, Martins Liepa, Vilmars Sokolovs, Jana Lisova, Martind Grauds, Aivars Linis, Dainis Grube, Agnese Cirule, Janis Dubovics, Armands Berges, Karlis Arnolds Avots
written by Aik Karapetian, music by Andris Dzenitis

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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The marriage between Francis (Kaspars Znotins) and Katrina (Maija Doveika) hasn't gone great for a while when one night, on their way home from the party, they are attacked by a cocky biker Armands (Kaspars Zale), who beats him up then threatens to rape her with an iron rod if she doesn't hand over her handbag - which she does of course. And Francis feels unable to defend her (and frankly, he wouldn't have stood a chance), which makes him feel emasculated. And of course, it doesn't help at all when the cop investigating the case, Gustavs (Martins Liepa), turns out to be a former boyfriend of Katrina's. So Francis insists to not rely on the police on this one and doing it his own way - which is to track down Armands and (without Katrina's knowledge) to actually "buy" Katrina's handbag back (rather than fight for it). Well, in Francis' defense, he manages to track down Armands, somewhere deep in the woods, and Armands happily takes his money - he just refuses to return the handbag. A fight ensues, and Francis soon enough finds himself out of his league - when Armands falls down some cliffs to his death. Francis is shocked, but feels some kind of satisfaction at the same time, having finally proven himself to be a man, if only to himself. And that the body's never found gives Francis' additional self confidence ...

A few months later: Katrina's pregnant by now and she and Francis move into a new place, when Francis receives a package - and it's Katrina's handbag. So somebody must have found out, and from here on Francis missteps every step along the way, from withholding vital information from Katrina to suspecting her and Gustavs of trying to blackmail him to actually giving in to the demands of the blackmailers, who want him to shoot someone, and what previously made him feel like a man for the first time is now threatening to wreck his life ...

 

Firstborn is quite a remarkable film as it manages to blend a revenge thriller with a very archaic drama of self discovery and a quite disturbing character study, all told in a way that leaves much of the story open to interpretation. This is of course due to a clever script that's helped by a directorial effort that does rely on strong imagery while at the same time giving the cast enough room to breathe life into their characters, and that said, the acting's strong as well.

Quite an unusual experience that's well worth one's while.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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