Rooster’s Breakfast, 2007

During the introduction for the film, Marko Nabersnik mentioned that he had graduated from the New York Film Academy fourteen years earlier and, to some extent, the screening of his film in Lincoln Center was a culmination of that journey. In a way, that experience would also shape his well constructed, entertaining, and pleasant, if light and formulaic Rooster’s Breakfast, a film that plays more within the realm of independent rather than indigenous cinema with its chronicle of life in a small town rife with eccentric characters, perennially drunken friends, a local mob boss, and a neighborhood sex bomb (who, not surprisingly, is the wife of aforementioned mob boss), and even includes a requisite love scene of the photogenic couple making… hay. The film is an amalgam of several interweaving stories surrounding a rural garage: the owner, a gregarious, aging mechanic, Gajas (Vlado Novak) who continues to indulge in his heyday (or is it, hay day?) stories as a lauded model worker who often saved the production day and got the girl, his young apprentice, Djuro (Primoz Bezjak), an orphan and recently laid-off junior mechanic who has traveled to the bucolic town to start a new life, low rent party entertainer, Roki (Davor Janjic) who introduces Gajas to the soulful music of Severina (in a cameo by Croatian pop star Severina Vuckovic), perennial customer and strip club owner, Lepec (Dario Varga) and his wife Bronja (Pia Zemljic) whose cars always seem to be in need of body repair, and a trio of layabouts including university professor and henpecked husband, Zobar (Matija Rozman) who converge in Gajas’s repair shop after hours to play cards and drink their sorrows (and the night) away. Ever hovering between romantic comedy and thriller, the persistent tonal ambiguity impedes the film from reaching its figurative climax, even in the wake of a profoundly life-changing (if expected) denouement, making the sun-drenched, picture perfect ending seem all the more cynical and naïve.

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