Some movies are hard to write about because they don't have anything to say. Others are hard to write about because what they're actually saying is either too complex and/or too muddled to be described in words. For better or for worse, you have to experience it. Igor Sterk's sober, intriguing 9:06, to be screened at Los Angeles' South-East European Film Festival at the Goethe Institut, falls into the latter category.
Set within the framework of a mystery drama, 9:06 is actually a psychological study about a man, a Slovenian police officer named Dusan, obsessed with death. In Dusan's particular case, that covers both the death of his young daughter, for which he may have been responsible, and the death of a man who (apparently) committed suicide by throwing himself off of a majestic bridge over the Soca River. The time of death: 9:06 a.m.
As the investigation proceeds, Dusan – played by Igor Samobor with an appropriate mix of control and spookiness – becomes increasingly obsessed with his subject. Slowly, he begins to assume the identity of the dead man, a bisexual piano teacher (whose face we never get to see).
Considering the metamorphosis that takes place as the story progresses, the film's conclusion seems all but inevitable – except for the fact that, ahem, we don't quite know what happens at the end. A series of disparate but interconnected images could be interpreted in any way you choose.
However, no simplistic answer would do justice to the complexities found in director-screenwriter Igor Sterk and co-screenwriter Sinisa Dragin's screenplay. And this very fact that 9:06 raises more questions than it answers is one of the film's strongest points.
Among its other positive aspects are Silva Cusin's excellent turn as the cop's wife – a bitter, resentful woman who, thanks to Cusin's spot-on performance, never comes across as a shrew – and Simon Tansek's poetically stark cinematography, which intensifies the protagonist's sense of isolation.
9:06 is dedicated to the director's father, who disappeared in the Indian Ocean.
9:06 (2009). Dir.: Igor Sterk. Scr.: Igor Sterk and Sinisa Dragin. Cast: Igor Samobor, Silva Cusin, Labina Mitevska, Jana Zupancic
Images: SEE Fest