'How I Killed a Saint'
Making economical use of a shopworn metaphorical device, How I Killed a Saint explores Macedonia's 2001 nearcivil war with its minority Albanian population through the prism of a house divided: Forward-thinking Viola (Labina Mitevska), back from the U.S. to recover her secret three-year-old daughter, plays pacifist counterpart to her brother Kokan (Milan Tocinovski-Sako), a Macedonian nationalist who works as a courier for an underground political group. Kokan's resentment runs deeptoo deep, unfortunately, for an 82-minute feature to spell out with any clarity. Context arrives via well-deployed TV and radio broadcasts, but How I Killed a Saint might have been stronger had it either gone broader tracing the roots of Kokan's activism, or fleshing out Viola's maternal backstoryor more immediate: A scene in which Kokan is searched by customs inspectors provides the single most gripping interlude. Throughout, first-time director Teona Strugar Mitevska (the sibling of the lead actress) demonstrates a keen eye for off-center compositions, a striking visual depiction of a world out of balance.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.