Kosovo's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at this year's Academy Awards is The Marriage, a moving drama about the sacrifices one makes... or doesn't make... for love.
Bekim (the Jake Gyllenhaal-ish Alban Ukaj) and his fiancée Anita (Adriana Matoshi) are in the midst of preparing for their upcoming wedding when they unexpectedly run into Nol (Genc Salihu), an old friend of Bekim's who has returned to Kosovo after living in Paris for several years. It is soon revealed that Bekim and Nol were more than just friends, they were lovers, secret lovers in a country that is still unaccepting of LGBT people. Old passions are reignited, but there is no real happy ending for anyone in this love triangle.
In his feature film debut, director Blerta Zeqiri (also co-writer of the screenplay with the film's producer, Keka Kreshnik Berisha) aims for a universal story where the gender of the three main characters is besides the point. This is admirable, yet there is a lot in The Marriage that is familiar, especially if you're a connoisseur of queer cinema. Zeqiri also pads the story with superfluous flashbacks (some of which are practically indiscernible from the story proper) and a family dinner scene that goes on forever for no apparent reason.
What saves this Marriage is the performances of its two leading actors, especially Salihu (a Kosovar pop star who was also a judge on his country's version of The Voice), who imbues his character with a steadfast dignity even though he knows quite well that he will be the one most victimized by fate.
The Marriage opens this Friday in Los Angeles and will also be available via Video On Demand.
Dearest Rating: 7/10
Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.
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