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    Consequences Is the First Narrative Queer Film from Slovenia

    By Gary Kramer–

    The absorbing drama Consequences, now available on iTunes, Amazon and other outlets, is billed as the “first narrative queer film from Slovenia.” Written and directed by Darko Stante, it concerns Andrej (Matej Zemljic), a handsome, closeted 18-year-old.

    Andrej is first seen at a party, where he can’t get it up for a girl angling to have sex with him. At home, he fights with his domineering mother, Milena (Rosana Hribar), while his milquetoast father (Dejan Spasic) tries to keep the peace. Andrej’s difficult behavior has caused his mother to involve the courts, and he is soon sent to a juvenile detention center, where most of the film unfolds. (Alas, the film asks viewers to take Milena’s word for Andrej’s criminal behavior—at least from the film’s onset. At first, he doesn’t seem like such a bad kid!)

    Consequences shows how Andrej adapts to, and navigates his way through, the toxic male hierarchy of the center. He befriends Luka (Lovro Zafred), his passive roommate, but has a tense encounter with Zele (Timon Sturbej), a hotheaded alpha male who has a penchant for blackmail. When Andrej wins a fight against Niko (Gasper Markun), one of Zele’s flunkies, he proves himself to be a tough guy. And when Zele puts a challenge to Andrej in the gym, he gains the center’s kingpin’s respect. Soon, Zele, Niko and Andrej are spending their weekend in Ljubljana. They drink, do drugs and participate in some criminal behavior.

    However, Andrej is uneasy about robbing people—he is concerned about the police. He goes along because he is attracted to the magnetic and dangerous Zele. He makes his feelings known to Zele when they are dancing, with their arms around one another, and Andrej puts his hand down the back of Zele’s pants. While Zele, like Andrej, is drunk and/or high at the time, the guys do soon kiss. They later hook up in a hotel room with Miki (Dominik Vodopivec) participating as well.

    But the next morning, neither youth talks about what transpired. Andrej may be falling in love, or finally acting on his pent-up same-sex desires, but Zele has a girlfriend, Svetlana (Lea Cok). He is more interested in what Andrej can do for him, not with him.

    As such, Consequences comes to pivot on how Andrej’s attraction will prompt him to do Zele’s dirty work, shaking down Luka or Mitar (Urban Kuntaric), another youth at the detention center, for money. Andrej’s actions also get him deeper into trouble. He rebels against the center’s authorities. He breaks into his parents’ home and the police are called. Things come to a head when Zele convinces Andrej to help him get money so they can go to Amsterdam together.

    Stante does not provide much in the way of surprises with what happens. Moreover, a subplot involving Andrej rescuing his pet rat from his parent’s house leads to the logical conclusion as it provides a heavy-handed symbol for the protagonist’s own entrapment.

    But Consequences, Stante’s feature debut, is so compelling that one can forgive some of the contrivances. Even as Andrej makes a series of bad decisions, he is sympathetic, in part because Zemljic is captivating as the troubled youth. His transformation is realistic because the actor expresses Andrej’s internal struggle through his body language and expressions, as well as acts of tenderness and violence. 

    Curiously, the film does not do much to examine Andrej’s sexuality; it serves as an excuse for his behavior to some degree, and Stante uses it to hint at his inner turmoil. Andrej looks on with fascination and shame as Zele harasses Mitar in the detention center, humiliating the youth with homoerotic horseplay. And Andrej rejects the advances of a young girl one night, so as not to jeopardize his imagined romance with Zele.

    Yet beyond these scenes, or moments of the youths taunting one another with the word “faggot,” Stante connects the dots of Andrej’s situation to homeless queer youth. Given that his relationship with his parents is splintered, Andrej spends several nights sleeping outdoors in Ljubljana because he has nowhere else to stay. The film avoids making generalizations about queer youth, but it does suggest the social conditions that impact teens who are questioning or struggling with their sexuality. For this reason, Consequences has value.

    Stante’s drama is filled with both sensitivity and brutality. The film is aided by Zemljic’s emotional turn. Watching him breakdown during a “coming out” scene is quietly powerful. Consequences may not be very original, but it is worthwhile.

    © 2019 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer