A warm, comic film that reminds a lot of Kusturica, Goran Markovic’s Tito and Me features one of the best child performances ever. Zoran (Dimitrije Vojnov) is a wide-eyed 10 year-old living in Belgrade with his wacky family. He idolizes Yugoslavian leader Josip Tito, and imagines meeting the leader.
Markovic’s style is pretty relentlessly moving. It definitely anticipates Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the eccentric characters, the naive and sympathetic lead perspective, and the mobile camera. Maybe another easy comparison, but I also see a bit of Moonrise Kingdom in this film via those same characters, the child-group-expedition narrative, and the generally rich and antique mise-en-scene.
Unlike either of those antecedents, Tito and Me has political overtones, often spelled out through found footage intercut throughout the film:
Maybe I think of Kusturica’s films because of Lazar Ristovski, who plays Raja in this film:
He’s amazing in Underground and just as good here, infecting the film with his great combination of bravado and humor. Raja takes Zoran and a group of other children who have won an essay contest on an expedition to Tito’s homeland. Raja is clearly representative of the dictatorial side of communism. He’s absurd, a caricature, bumbling, and ultimately far less of a leader than he makes out to be.
This puts him in stark contrast to the actual Tito, played by Vojislav Brajovic, and whom Zoran finally meets in person towards the end of the film. Tito is a disappointment for Zoran, but not through any immediately evident downside. In fact, though surrounded by cronies, Tito is portrayed as righteous and generous. Even saintly in the lighting:
While Tito is no Raja, Markovic’s film is in the end gentle: family over government seems to be the ultimate message.