What happens to the women left behind if all the men from a village are killed in a war? What changes in customs and culture will arise in a community without males? How will the remaining women gain sexual satisfaction, become pregnant and reproduce? If any of these questions have ever crossed your mind – and you enjoy a good fantasy or fable – Tears For Sale may just be the film for you.
When Ognjenka and Mala were born into such a village, their most marketable talent was as professional wailers – when someone dies and the wife or family aren’t sure they’ll give enough of a performance at the funeral, they hire the sisters who will wail and moan and cry enough to honour any loved one’s memory. Concerned they will soon be spinsters as they have never known the ‘caress’ of a man, they enlist the help of the solitary male in the village, an elderly man kept alive only for the sexual gratification of the lonely women of their town.
There is great humour and wit in the writing of Tears For Sale, such that one can’t help but be entertained. The bizarre behaviours and customs that are explored are amusing enough, making one truly wonder what evolution may occur in the absence of men, while occasional flashback sequences provide the explanations for much of what occurs. There is a sense that the writers pursued their ideas to their furthest extent, with much of what seems absurd as a result. The light touch of magical realism allows the fantastic to become real on screen, ensuring the film can make the most of even its absurdities.
The costume and set designs allow a believable – even if based in fantasy – village world to come to life, with small touches that add to the credibility of the action and weave into the overall impression that this is a world that has evolved far from what it started out to be. The soundtrack works to enhance the vision in just the way it should, and allows certain moments the levity their content would not otherwise suggest. It is hard to fault the production on any measure.
The performances vary, with Sonja Kolacaric as Ognjenka absolutely charming, and giving the film its heart. Her turn is excellent, given she must explore a wide variety of emotions including lust, mirth, drunkenness, horror and fear, and she never misses her mark. Katarina Radivojevic as Ognjenka’s younger sister Mala is also strong, although her role is far darker and perhaps even more rewarding than that of Ognjenka. The remaining performances are generally only in support of the antics of the lead sisters.
While a fable with fantastic and absurd elements won’t necessarily appeal to all viewers, it is hard to imagine most wouldn’t get at least a smile from Tears For Sale. At just 86 minutes, director Uros Stojanovic allows the film just long enough to have its fun and ensures it never overstays its welcome. Recommended.Rating: