A Film a Week - Inventory / Inventura

 previously published on Cineuropa

Why would someone be shot at for apparently no reason? This mystery serves as the trigger for a string of events in Inventory, the feature-length fiction debut by Slovenian filmmaker Darko Sinko, who made a name for himself with the mid-length documentaries This Is Where I Live (2011), Revolt (2013) and Little Houses (2015). Inventory has just premiered in the New Directors competition at the San Sebastián Film Festival.

Really, there is no reason for Boris Robič (Radoš Bolčina), a middle-aged technical assistant at a university, to be shot at from afar while he is relaxing in his flat after a hard day’s work. He is a remarkably ordinary man living in an ordinary apartment and holding down an ordinary job. His marriage to Alenka (Mirel Knez) is respectful, but not exactly passionate. Their son Mitja (Žan Koprivnik) has moved away and started his own family. Boris has few close friends and no known enemies. He does not hold any grudges against anyone and does not even remember if he has crossed anyone in his life.

These facts make the investigation of the case, handled by seasoned police investigator Andrej (Dejan Spasić, glimpsed in Damjan Kozole’s Slovenian Girl and Nightlife, as well as Darko Štante’s Consequences), difficult: after finding no clues, the inspector puts it down to pure coincidence. Boris, on the other hand, does not feel safe and feels the urge to get to the bottom of things. Firstly, nobody from his circle of friends and family believes him when he says he was shot at for no reason. And secondly, he needs to make some sense out of the whole thing, so he starts looking into the events on his own.

His amateur investigation actually resembles something akin to undertaking an inventory of his life, re-examining his relationships and friendships, and finding strange coincidences. He remembers a life-insurance policy inhis name that he had forgotten about, which makes his wife and son (who has set his sights on Boris’s apartment) viable suspects. On the other hand, there is another man with the same name, a younger, private business owner who has an affair, which would make him the real target of the attack…

The premise of the film would make for a killer short, but in a feature-length format, it gets slightly too watered down, especially in the middle section. Nevertheless, Sinko’s movie is not so much about the investigation, but rather, it focuses more on the metaphorical personal inventory and the quest to make sense out of sometimes unpleasant and even dangerous coincidences. The casting of Radoš Bolčina in the role of Boris is spot-on: he is primarily a stage actor and is more than capable of highlighting the more remarkable aspects of Boris’s ordinariness, but without over-acting. Bolčina carries the whole film on his shoulders, and when paired with the other actors of different sensibilities and backgrounds (Knez, as his primary partner, also comes from the ranks of stage performance, while Spasić, with whom he has the meatiest exchanges, has more movie experience), it seems smooth and almost effortless.

Apart from his knack for working with the actors, Sinko also demonstrates a strong sense of aesthetics, employing mostly static shots with a certain symmetry in order to highlight Boris’s “squareness”, and painting the picture in a predominantly cold, but also bright, palette of colours, consisting mainly of whites and light greys captured by DoP Marko Brdar. The sound scheme is quite interesting thanks to Julij Zornik’s sound design, while the tonal shifts in the musical score by Matija Krečič are sometimes too on-the-nose. All of this combines to make Inventory a sure-handed and stylish fiction debut.

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