Drinking too much, talking about sophisticated things in an unsophisticated manner, pointedly avoiding certain people, showing off a much younger lover to make a former lover jealous, hiding, breaking something and then hiding it; director Milica Tomović’s rather lovely Celts has certainly managed to accurately depict most house parties.
A news bulletin helpfully reveals that Al Pacino is the frontrunner to win an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, and so it’s 1993. Interestingly (and unrelated), a song called I Will Eat All the Cookies was popular on Serbian radio at the time. In the suburbs of Belgrade, young Minja (Katarina Dimić) is preparing to celebrate her Ninja Turtles-themed birthday. The country is in disarray, still entangled in the Yugoslav Wars, and all the country can do is try to hold it together – much like Minja’s mother (Dubravka Kovjanić) and father (Stefan Trifunović).
The children’s birthday unfolds simultaneously alongside the adults’ get-together in the kitchen, with Tomović fluidly moving between the two. One gathering features ninja fighting, the other hash and lesbian sex. Both involve a great deal of bickering. The focus is disarmingly aimless, with the focal point of the action shifting as the party proceeds, resulting in an evening of disappointment and frustration for many in attendance, which is most entertaining to watch. The interpersonal relationships between most of the adults can be difficult to identify, but it’s just a case of longtime friends who are comfortably, even resentfully familiar with one another.
Milica Tomović’s script is mischievous and sharp, with a great deal of restraint that prevents things from becoming farcical. Perhaps a little too much restraint is utilised, since there are some missed moments that could have played up the story’s darkly comedic elements, but, ultimately, Celts uses a light touch to pick apart some heavy themes, and it does so with charm.
Celts (Kelti) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Celts (Kelti) here: