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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Review: The Pond

Director: Petar Pasic

Screenplay: Dusan Bulic

Year: 2021

After his wife’s death, an anthropologist moves to a rural area to work on his research. His research convinces him that he is on the brink of an apocalyptic discovery, and it becomes an obsession that makes him lose his job and put his interpersonal relationships at risk. Close events lead him to believe that there is something else interested in his discoveries.

Clocking in at a lengthy 96 minutes runtime, “The Pond” is a cryptic film that puts us in the shoes of a man only referenced as the professor, who conducts an esoteric scientific research. From the first moment, the movie is filled with symbolism and para scientific content that forces you to question if the research has a scientific basis or if it is all a product of his imagination. Dusan Bulic’s script makes a quick mention of the professor’s problems, so it is not har-brained to think that it can all be a product of his psychological instability. 

“The Pond” was filmed in Serbia, and it makes excellent use of the chosen natural setting, offering breathtaking cinematography. The composition of every shot and the artistic look that the movie as a whole has is worthy of recognition, and by far, it is its most significant success. However, this is not backed up by the other parts of the movie.

The artistic and cryptic aspect works astoundingly well in the visuals, but not necessarily in the plot. In its effort for being enigmatic, it becomes too confusing, and even the reveals do not answer satisfactorily the questions raised throughout the development. Is this all real? What is the purpose of the secondary characters? The plot manages to capture your attention, but it doesn’t offer a resolution that balances the expectation it creates.

Another problem it shows resides in the director’s and editor’s functions. The acting from most of the cast is weak, so much so that they take you entirely out of the movie in some parts. This can pretty much be inexperience from the cast, but considering other issues within the film, I am more inclined to believe that Petar Pasic’s (“About Bugs and Heroes”) direction did no favors, as well as the unnatural dialogues on Bulic’s script. This adds up to the movie being unnecessarily long and that many sequences had little relevance for an already confusing plot and only managed to emphasize this issue.

“The Pond” is an outstanding exercise in the cinematography field and offers several shots worthy of recognition, but it is a flawed exercise in storytelling. The plot is confusing, and you are never sure of what’s going on, which isn’t something intrinsically negative, but it does not manage to balance it with a resolution that offers closure and convincing answers. The plot has plenty of potential, but it was not met by pacing that would support it or the ability to transition its unsettling imagery into pure horror.

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