"Magnus": The Right Moment By Ralf Schenk

in 8th Wiesbaden Festival of Central and Eastern European Film - goEast

by Ralf Schenk

Magnus, the first film from 26-year-old Estonian writer-director Kadri Kõusaar, was also the first Estonian movie ever accepted in the official selections of the Cannes Film Festival. Now, ten months after its first screening in the 2007 “Un certain regard” line-up, Magnus is also the big winner of the goEast-Festival of Middle and East European films in Wiesbaden: it got the main prize as well as the FIPRESCI prize.

Magnus, based on true events, is the story of a young man in his early 20s (played by the local rock-musician and singer Kristjan Kasearu) and his ruthlessly hedonistic father Mart (Mart Laisk), who was never touched by the word morality. Mart sends Estonian women to Germany for pornography movies or prostitution and brings his son into a world of drugs and sex. His credo is: “It all depends what you want from life. If you’re going to steal, rob a bank. If you’re going to rape somebody, rape a queen.” Mart never feels that Magnus’ life is full of hopelessness. His childhood was chaotic; neither father nor mother was able to offer him a home of love or warmth. As a child Magnus suffers from a lung disease; ten years later, when his lungs are cured, he thinks about committing suicide every day. In this situation, his father Mart wants to give him some sense of the joy of living, but his help is no use to the sensitive Magnus. “I’m just waiting for the right moment”, Magnus tells his sister. And the right moment comes.

Magnus was inspired by the fact that in Estonia the suicide rate is one of the highest in the world. Kadri Kõusaar herself lost a good friend, a beautiful 22-year-old girl, who committed suicide. And Mart Laisk, the amateur actor who plays the shameless father, lost his own son in this way. In a long monologue at the end of this powerful movie, the authentic Mart speaks about this tragedy. It seems that this epilogue and Laisk’s performance is the true key to the film. But Laisk’s divorced wife was strictly against the movie and started a process to ban it. So Magnus is forbidden for theatrical release in Estonia; it’s only possible to see the movie abroad. Kadri Kõusaar, who is also the best-selling novelist in her country, worked together with the Polish cinematographer Pawel Sobczyk. They created a dark atmosphere in grey and blue colors: a cold world. After Magnus it is no question that Kõusaar is an outstanding talent to watch — let’s hope that it will be possible to release Magnus in Estonia soon.