Jovan (Slaven Doslo) spends his easy Belgrade summer days at parties, flirting and making the occasional effort to tackle his university obligations. The young womaniser starts a casual affair with cute Maja (Jovana Stojiljković), insisting that, for him, it can only be an open relationship; after all, we know he has an ongoing sex competition with equally libidinous and immature pick-up buddy Milan and doesn’t feel like consistency and commitment at all.
Surprising him, Maja accepts the conditions with little reluctance and the two throw themselves into a passionate affair. They prove to be extremely compatible and enjoy each other’s attention. Jovan’s seduction numbers slowly drop, but the thought of being exclusively attached to someone leads to confusion and refusal. Their love life is fulfilling and Jovan feels so comfortable with Maja that he finds it more and more difficult to maintain the carefree attitude he initially demanded of her and of himself.
As the late summer and early autumn change Belgrade’s scenery and the atmosphere no longer resembles that of an unconcerned, colourful, ongoing party, Jovan starts to admit his love, if only to himself. Afraid of being hurt, he becomes doubtful and wary of Maja’s faithfulness. A growing obsession with the truth forces him to follow Maja’s every digital trace. Her social life is documented in her online profiles and networks and Jovan cannot keep himself from tracking down all of her favourite places, examining her photos and watching the videos others upload of her. He is eaten up by jealousy, suspicions about other men and ambivalent messages, which he repeatedly confronts her with. Evasively, but justifiably, Maja reminds him that it was he who called for independence. Not able to bear sexual freedom anymore, her behaviour makes him believe she has a parallel life, a secret that she keeps from him, which might only surface when seeping through the holes of the internet.
Although it doesn’t make use of the full potential of the presented ideas, this feature-length debut from Serbian director Pavle Vučković is effective in its drawing up of a modest initial situation that then develops into a thought-provoking treatment of modern relationships and social media. Everything is connected, exchanged, traceable and informed by media, even the sophisticated and beautifully captured sex. The viewer is as captivated by this young love as Jovan and hopes for the healing and purifying impact it might provide.
In the end, Panama leaves us guessing at how technology and total information have changed and will further change our social interaction.
Panama does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for Panama here: