SISKA DELUXE || 2015, Slovenia / Czech Republic / Republic of Macedonia / Italy || Comedy || Directed by – Jan Cvitkovic / Written by – Jan Cvitkovic / Produced by – Pavel Bercik, Robert Naskov, Ales Pavlin, Andrej Stritof, Ondrej Zima / Cinematography – Jure Cernec / Editing by – Dafne Jemersic / Production design – Ivan Bartling, Vasja Kokelj / Music by – Aleksander Pesut-Shatzi / Starring – Fodransperg Ziga, Marko Miladinovic, David Furlan / Running time: 108 mins.
Three Slovenian men, approaching middle age, and from the transitional generation between Soviet rule and the beginning of the influx of capitalism in the country, decide to take a shot at redemption and shake things up in their lives by opening up a pizza place, the titular Siska Deluxe. After initial struggles to get the ball rolling, also due to their incompetence and lack of business knowledge, they come up with an original concept that could be the key to their success – a special pizza of their invention, which is delivered to people’s homes along with just about anything else the customer might desire.
Cvitkovic’s film revolves around the central trio of characters, all three defined by different individual personalities that inspire many different creative events and situation. These events and situations lead to the identity of the construction of the film, that feels driven by impulses more than a cohesive and traditionalist format. In other words, there is no real beginning, middle and an end, and this sense of unpredictability together with the rapid fire pace of the film makes it quite fun, never boring and particularly suited to an audience with a short attention span. In many ways, this is a structure that recalls slapstick films of the past, and the visual nature of some of the gags strengthens the comparison.
However, Siska Deulxe‘s childish jokes, even at their most childish, somehow manage to avoid the immature cheap laughs of toilet humour, far more than most of the American counterparts. The structure of the film means that despite the solid initial concept, it is driven by jokes in almost a sketch type of format. Some of these sketches are inevitably less impressive than others, and as is often the case in such features, even this one has its problem with getting some of its gags to translate as well for an international audience. But the film really only starts a downward spiral when in a sequence near the end it betrays its free form nature in a birthday party sequence full of exposition dialogue, which serves as the set up for the confrontation of Siska Deluxe‘s characters with their personal problems.
The most impressive element of Cvitkovic’s feature is its satirical bite, especially in its depiction of its setting. This is a world where, right from the very beginning, we see a grandmother stealing a bike from a kid. In a sequence shortly after, a television falls at the feet of two of the main character, and their naive response to it is something along the lines of “it wasn’t always like this.” Yet, even through all the eccentricities, the director manages to fit in some studies of more delicate and serious issues, from alcoholism, Slovenian heritage, even to homosexuality, perhaps not in the most mature of ways, but quite meaningfully nonetheless. – 3/5