An ordinary man, forced to choose between life and death of his own child. Kill someone in exchange for the money for your child’s operation. What would you do?
Would you kill someone you have never met before, for someone you have never met before, to save someone you loved? This is what is positioned to us in ‘The Trap’, as a hard working, honest man has the cards stacked against him. His life was going well, as well as it could be in post-communist Serbia. Despite being poor, he has a happy family, a steady job – he see’s light at the end of the tunnel. However, the gulf between the rich and poor has never been more prominent, which is why when his child falls sick, he has a very important decision to make. Both morally, emotionally and economically. What follows is bleak and unforgiving, but nonethelsss excellent cinema.
It is a beautifully shot film, depicting a desolate and cold environment for our lead, Mladen, to make his decision. Whether it was intentional, it is quite fitting that the area he lives in represents his emotional situation so well. The plot is exceptional, addressing the key theme of the film early on but being restrained enough for the mystery to unfold effortlessly and naturally. It is not without shock, the unclear direction of the story and the consequential events leaves you with your mouth wide open all to often.
The decision is difficult enough as it is, but it is a standard question that has been featured in many different genres of film from spy films to comedies to thrillers to horror – You have to save yourself, someone you love, or someone dies. How is it then that such a simple premise is executed so well? Aside from the twisting plot and the bleak cinematography, the performances by Nebojsa Glogovac and Natasa Ninkovic are first rate and elevate this film to something else. The sheer emotion that these two leave on the screen makes this film what it is. We as an audience are let in to witness this turmoil Mladen faces; A difficult moral decision, conflicted and torn for so many reasons, you empathise but cannot side with him.
Ultimately a life has to end, but is there really a right answer as to how this plays out? What makes the film unique, is that the lines of good and bad are blurred inherently within the society this takes place. It is difficult to watch the events unfold. He is a victim of circumstance, and has a decision nobody wants to make.