Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Mildly interesting Lituhuanian road movie with undeveloped thriller, crime film, and romantic triangle elements

You Can’t Escape Lithuania

(Nuo Lietuvos nepabegsi)

Written and Directed by Romas Zabarauskas

Premiered September 30, 2015, at the Bushwick Film Festival
Drama (foreign)
80 min.

Amazontrailerimdb

Review by Stephen O. Murray

October 1, 2017.


While I was watching it, You Can’t Escape Lithuania (Nuo Lietuvos nepabegsi) annoyed me more than it entertained me. Though I still feel cheated by it, I am less hostile to it a week after watching it.

The best part is the very beginning when a gay Lithuanian “art film” director Romas Zabarauskas [Denisas Kolomyckis] promotes a kickstarter page that promises a naked photograph of him for anyone who gives money to finance his next film. 1 Then there is a scene of him in bed with a hunky young man who, we will later learn, is an “escort” from Mexico named Carlos [Adrian Escobar]. Maybe “gay for pay,” maybe without a fixed sexual identity, Carlos is definitely dismayed at being dependent on Romas and not understanding what the Lithuanians are saying.

Then the director’s muse—or at least the star of his movies, Indre [Irina Lavrinovic], shows up having just murdered her mother and emptied her mother’s safe. The hunk emerges from the bedroom quite naked (with tattoos and mostly shaved pubes). The camera gawks at him (ye olde gratuitous full-frontal nudity, of which I approve…). Then they take flight (wanting to escape to Portugal).

Romas is sufficiently a celebrity in Lithuania that the highway patrolman who pulls him over recognizes him as “the gay filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas” without anything resembling a sneer. The cop changes the tire, and the director goes into the woods to find the other two…who are making the beast with two backs. He reaches around the tree that makes him invisible to the rutting couple (if they were paying any attention) and films them.

There are squabbles and no real attempt to escape Lithuania. Instead they go to a long-unoccupied cabin in which the electricity has not been turned off. What happens there is occluded, which is what I thought cheated the viewer. And there is another cheat in the first screening of the movie: the director leaves after the sex in the woods shot.

Getting over my irritation at being cheated, I realized that (24-year-old) Denisas Kolomyckis is quite good as the pretentious, alienated director. The lingua franca between the Lithuanians and Carlos is English, though they frequently exclude him and natter in Lithuanian (which is subtitled, so the Anglophone audience knows that they are saying, as Carlos does not).

The very light-skinned (for a Mexican) Adrian Escobar is quite hunky, and I found his frustrations with his situation sympathetic, though his acting is minimal.

BTW, Zabarauskas, whom I think more handsome than the actor who plays him, raised more than his target of $20,000. Indre tells him he has no talent, but I think he has some, though blocked by brattiness/pretentiousness.

Reputedly, there is a much better lesbian film from Lithuania The Summer of Sangailė (2015).


©2017, Stephen O. Murray


Notes:

  1. the page with the real Romas Zabarauskas offer is at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/romaszabarauskas/you-cant-escape-lithuania

About The Author

Stephen O. Murray grew up in rural southern Minnesota, earned a B.A. from James Madison College (within Michigan State University), an M.A. from the University of Arizona, a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (both in sociology), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley (in anthropology). He is the author of American Gay, Homosexualities, etc. and lives in San Francisco.

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