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An elegant hybrid of true-story exposé and slow-moving arthouse thriller, Serbian director Miroslav Terzić’s sober sophomore feature “Stitches” takes a familiar idea — a lone crusader taking on a corrupt system in pursuit of the truth — but delivers an unusually thoughtful, psychologically compelling character study. Taking its cue from Snežana Bogdanović’s eerily composed but fathomless central performance as a middle-aged Belgrade-based seamstress who believes she was deceived 18 years earlier by doctors who claimed her baby was stillborn, the film makes a confident drama of a cruel chapter in recent Serbian history.
Ana (Bogdanović), the wife of Jovan (Marko Baćović) and mother of teenage daughter Ivana (Jovana Stojiljković), is quiet to the point of being withdrawn. Or rather, we would think she’s withdrawn if it weren’t for an arresting, almost surreal opening scene that shows her stalking another woman, like a predator, from a safe distance. Though neither woman has the glamor of a femme fatale, the sequence sets swirling the uneasy noirish undercurrents beneath the film’s deceptively still surface.
Belgrade - Suburb - Ana - Store - Clothing
In a gray, worn-down Belgrade suburb, Ana has a small store where she mends clothing, and a small apartment where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her relationship with Ivana is strained; Jovan is a night watchman who works odd hours. As a result, aside from the warm but worried watchfulness of her sister, Marija (Vesna Trivalić), Ana is often alone — and even when she is not, she exudes the impression of loneliness, of being hidden somewhere deep inside herself. Indeed, despite her promises to Jovan, who long ago resigned himself to the tragedy, Ana has been doggedly pursuing all possible avenues for information about the baby son they lost 18 years prior. Hospital records are incomplete; the doctor (Dragana Varagić) who delivered the reportedly stillborn child stonewalls her;...
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