Published Feb 04, 2011Coming-of-age stories are often plagued by the excessive drama involved with neurosis and alienation experienced in adolescence. Not to detract from the excellence of the Catcher In The Rye-esque stories that we've become so accustomed to, but most can't honestly say they aren't a little extreme in comparison to the typical insecurities and identity struggles faced by your average teenager.
Toronto, ON independent filmmaker Ingrid Veninger's Modra succeeds by offering an honest, sincere tale that will bring back those repressed memories of how awkward, insecure and vulnerable we once were. What Modra lacks in ambition and production values is more than compensated for by its DIY family sincerity and genuineness.
Modra begins with the 17-year-old Lina (Hallie Switzer, Verninger's daughter), who just prior to her planned ethnic pilgrimage to Slovakia is dumped by her boyfriend. Leco (Alexander Gammal), a classmate who calls Lina in hopes of securing a date, unexpectedly joins her in place of her ex-boyfriend on her trip. The following week develops into a whirlwind of confused emotions, hormonal frustrations and jealousy between the two awkward teenagers as they experience the freedom of travel and relaxed European drinking laws. The two struggle to coexist and develop a relationship while coping with hormonal tensions and vulnerability in a foreign culture.
Modra demonstrates its straightforwardness via Verninger's unique presentation of her cultural hometown and many extended relatives. Featuring a cast and three-person production team composed of predominantly family and first-time actors, the credit card budgeted film emanates cultural gems that can't be found as a tourist or through typically produced films.
Beautiful family performances of cultural music and dance, sunny summer afternoon family dinners and a heartfelt, intimate jazz song sung by Lina for her elderly relative are just a few examples of where the honesty and beauty of Modra shine.
Modra's authenticity and sincerity leave you thankful for self-produced, independent films. (Mongrel Media)