What a wonderful little film this is. Director Ingrid Veninger channels a Sofia Coppola sensibility, turning Modra into a "Lost in Translation in Slovakia."
Modra differs from Coppola's masterpiece in that it focuses less on universal disconnect than on youth adolescence and their search for identity. The two main characters, Lina and Leco are both 17 years old. Lina's boyfriend has just broken up with her, 24 hours before they are supposed to leave for Slovakia. Before she has time to grieve, she gets a call from Leco, a boy she briefly met at a party. He's just as confused and lonely, almost desperate to find someone to hang out with for the summer. Lina invites Leco to accompany her on her vacation and he accepts. The scene is executed remarkably well, the camera holding on the teens' faces, the awkward silences of the conversation, capturing everything that is being said and not said.
The film plays out like a love letter to Slovakia, but not as a travel video. It celebrates the country as part of this girl's heritage. Lina's search for her cultural identity mirrors her search for a personal identity. She meets her extended family and learns why her parents left for Toronto so many years ago.
Along the way, her friendship with Leco buds into a romance. Their relationship takes them through periods of passion, anger, and hope. Both teens have their own personal demons, and unlike so many romance films, Modra knows that these anxieties can't be resolved simply through love. But knowing that they've made a special connection with each other makes confronting those anxieties that much easier.
Modra might not be an easy film to find, but it is worth checking out should you get the chance. It is a great example of how the quality of Canadian film has risen substantially in this new decade.