Wednesday, November 19, 2014

European Union Film Festival Review - How to Steal A Wife.

Donatas Ulvydas' How to Steal a Wife resembles a stage play. All but two of the scenes take place in one apartment. The production uses miniature models as a device to break up the scenes, show activity outside of the apartment and to transition from day to night.

Ramutis (Ramunas Cicenas) is a school principal meeting the morning the day after an anniversary dinner with his wife Laima (Rimante Valiukaite). She is very happy with the prior nights events but Ramutis is glued to news on his iPhone. He soon comes across a story that changes his mood.  Laima's ex husband Vidas (Giedrius Sayickas) has been released from prison 3 years into his six year sentence declared innocent by the courts. Vidas a banker was sent to prison accused of steeling 300 million litas. It's the lead story on the evening news cameras flashing around him as he leaves prison. Ramutis is very agitated as he married Laima after Vidas went to prison  thinning he may want revenge.  he opens the front door to run only to find Vidas  in the doorway. He is home with no plans to leave as he has now where to go and feels entitled to one half of the apartment.

Writer Jonas Banys spins a fast paced dialogue focused tale. The script features rapid fire bantering amongst the three main players one line building on the next hurdling to a rewarding payoff. Vidas opening monologue on how he ended up with a specific matters while in prison sets the tone for the verbal Olympics to come.

Although also excels with the quiet moments mainly during scenes as they prepare food where the dialogue is sparse. Another memorable exchange high on the visual aspect occurs when Vidas' new girlfriend (Inga Jankauskaite)appears at the apartment quickly taking over the task of ironing a pair of men's trousers to impress.

Rimante Valiukaite is memorable as Laima as she ping pongs back and forth between Ramutis and Vidas. She takes verbal sparring to an art form and in the rear instant she may be loosing an argument throws out the last jab before exiting the scene.  Giedrius Sayickas is also strong as ex-banker Vidas. The viewer is never sure of his intentions. Did he steal the money or not? Does he know that his new girlfriend had a history with Ramutis? Is he still interested in Laima or has he moved on? Ramunas Cicenas plays off the other two very well. Sometimes he is allied with his wife and wants Vidas out of the apartment while at other times the two men are best buddies.  All the time he is trying to determine the truth about the money tapping on walls with a hammer and questioning Vidas when he senses a weakness or that he is in his confidence.

How to Steal a Wife is a dialogue driven piece that plays much larger that it's confined set. The production team used their imaginations to bring this story to the screen as an independent production. It is a film that I can recommend.

How to Steal A Wife | Donatas Ulvydas | Lithuania | 2013 | 86 Minutes.

Tags : Love, Marriage, Divorce, Prison, Embezzling, Innocent, Money, Happiness.

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