Contraband runner and family man Adam’s life is a balancing act that will have to adjust due to new changes at the Slovakian/Ukrainian border. A heaping slice of life that portrays the intimate and brutal, The Line’s many threads often tangle and repeat, but occasionally show flashes of brilliance.
Immediately, those who are not familiar with Slovakian/Ukraine/EU happenings and culture will feel as if they are thrown into the deep end with exposition, its many characters also contributing to the overwhelm. It can feel like a bit much but after settling in, most viewers will attach themselves to the small jokes and humor derived from everyday interactions. As is typical with of these films, a soon as the warm tranquility of the environment is present, it is taken away without warning.
The Line’s way of depicting the grisly necessities of the crime world is its highlight as it is sometimes so grandiose, that it is all you can see on the screen. Other times violence is inserted so plainly that you cannot help but wonder the steps that have led to such banality. Ultimately, the inclusion of many plot lines and subsequent back and forth prevents the film from shining.
Although this is director Peter Bebiake’s debut film, his catalog before comprises exclusively of television shows. One has to wonder if The Line may have worked better as a tv or mini-series as that would allow the time for each story to grow at a natural pace. Despite structural setbacks, the film manages to establish a strong foundation with its location and performances. In particular, actors for both the lead Adam and his mother are able to compliment close familial scenes as well as the stark action that happens in the films foreboding river sequences.
Ambitious in its scope and creative in parts, The Line marks a solid debut for Bebiake. Although it did not click with me through its duration, the parts that did make it clear why this was Slovakia’s entry for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar.