Visions du reel: Our Review of ‘Looking for Horses’ on OVID

Posted in What's Streaming? by - March 19, 2024
Visions du reel: Our Review of ‘Looking for Horses’ on OVID

Many people feel a sense of otherness, a sense of not belonging in the places they’re in. In Looking for Horses, documentary filmmaker Stefan Pavlovic makes his viewers feel his alienation through occasional jump cuts. He sometimes transports us from the landscapes of his home country in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Canada where he lives now. Most of this experimental documentary, though, takes place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There. he befriends Zdravko, a man who promises to take him to a place where horses roam. On their journey, the two men discuss the Balkan War and how that war uniquely changed people.

The film visually lets Zdravko explain the war physically affected his eyesight and his hearing. It shows Pavlovic help Zdravko with his hearing aid, a tender moment between filmmaker and his subject. But most of the time, Looking for Horses is respectful of Zdravko’s independence regardless of his different abilities. Zdravko can work his hearing aid just as well, and the same thing goes for his other activities. He fishes by himself, making the sounds that irritate the catfish enough to go jump above water. He lives by himself, a choice he made after a war that temporarily destroyed his town.

One way of looking at Looking for Horses is that it’s a hangout film between two men, and its micro approach is more interesting than a broadly educational doc about the war. This film, nonetheless, is not for everyone even if it is more straightforward than most experimental docs. A lot of this film depicts the same arid landscape that may belabour its point of the changes war makes on the land. The film’s choice to play with the subtitles may not rub everyone right. There’s also a subplot about someone possibly sabotaging Zdravko’s boat that doesn’t have a proper conclusion.

Nonetheless, Looking for Horses is a good meditation of different kinds of loss, permanent and temporary. There’s a point in the film where Pavlovic finds Zdravko’s dog but not him, which shakes things up a bit. This is also a few films where the experimentation works a bit better than most. The occasional shakycam is a bit on the nose to reflect Pavlovic’s alienation but I’m an easy mark for stuff like this. Through its visuals and editing, it captures what it’s like to not belong in two places, and as a bilingual stutterer, that final scene hits hard in the best way.

Looking for Horses comes soon on OVID.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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