The Whore's Son

Despite the salacious sounding title, Austrian director Michael Sturminger's adaptation of Gabriel Loidolt's novel works better as a look at life among a family of Croatian immigrants in Vienna during the nightmare years of the Balkan conflicts than an exploration of the psychosexual tension between a prostitute and her son. The film opens with a shocking...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Despite the salacious sounding title, Austrian director Michael Sturminger's adaptation of Gabriel Loidolt's novel works better as a look at life among a family of Croatian immigrants in Vienna during the nightmare years of the Balkan conflicts than an exploration of the psychosexual tension between a prostitute and her son. The film opens with a shocking admission. Staring straight into the camea, a teenaged Ozren (Stanislav Lisnic) tells us that he has just killed his beautiful mother, Silvija (Chulpan Khamatova). The action then flashes back to reveal Ozren's upbringing as the only child of a mercurial, unmarried Croatian woman who supports herself and her son by working as a hooker. Silvija loves her son, but in a temperamental, almost childish way, and she often expresses her resentment at having a "child on her back." Leaving each night for work, Silvija leaves Ozren in the care of her widowed older sister, Ljiljana (Ina Gogalova), a religious woman who makes sure Ozren is fed and in bed before his mother returns home to their cramped apartment, often with a john in tow. Also keeping an eye on Ozren is Silvija's brother Ante (Miki Manojlovic), a Tito loyalist whose affection for the late Great Leader only grows even stronger when war breaks out in the former Yugoslavia. When Ozren's teacher proposes that her students write a composition about what their parents do for a living, Silvija once again assures her son that she's a waitress. A john's driver, however, has already called Ozren hurensohn, or "whore's son," and Ante's coworker has answered the boy's questions about the meaning of the word "whore" with a lewd hand gesture. Pepi (Georg Friedrich), a good-natured pimp who runs the Mercedes strip club, goes one step further by letting Ozren peer in through a peephole as one of his girls plies her trade. Nevertheless, he continues to adore his mother until the day when Silvija tells a teenage Ozren that she'll be moving to her own apartment, leaving him alone. It's a perceived abandonment that Ozren is not prepared to make, and one he resists with tragic consequences. Strong performances aren't enough to flesh out an underdeveloped script that leaves far too many questions unanswered. Meanwhile, intriguing subplots — like the one involving a pretty but emotionally disturbed Serbian refugee (Susan Sozubek) who captures Ozren's heart — are frustratingly dropped.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Despite the salacious sounding title, Austrian director Michael Sturminger's adaptation of Gabriel Loidolt's novel works better as a look at life among a family of Croatian immigrants in Vienna during the nightmare years of the Balkan conflicts than an exp… (more)

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