In a family dealing with loss, sadness, and suffering, Moja, the youngest, is a ten-year-old trying to go above and beyond to fill the void that was her mother. On the other hand, her older sister, Vesna (Mackenzie Mazur), is dealing with the loss in a much different way and prefers to use poetry as a way of escape and expression. Moja and Vesna live with their father, Milos (Gregor Backovic). Deep conversations among the three rarely occur, and the household lacks any form of joy.
Viewers understand the loss in this family has occurred recently, given the mannerisms, moments, expressions and dialogue among them. Dealing with loss isn’t the only life-changing matter happening, though, as Vesna is currently pregnant. Moja is passionate about supporting and assisting her as much as possible in all areas. She even goes out of her way to look for hand-me-down clothing and soon meets a mother named Miranda (Claudia Karvan), who will eventually interact with Moja and her family on a greater level.
Moja Vesna is best described as a heavy drama. The prime focus is on Moja and her family, who are all dealing with intense grief. Everything on-screen is relatively slow and drawn out, which might sound frustrating; however, watching this family cope with and process their loss is something I couldn’t help but feel invested in, mainly because it generally feels realistic.
I adored the performances here. Young Loti Kovacic as Moja is excellent. She’s quite a shy character, and the gestures made throughout are impacting and touching. One example is when Moja touches a dining chair which used to be where her mother would sit each evening: it’s subtle yet highly effective. Mackenzie Mazur is great as Vesna and brings a character to life that entirely differs from Moja while still carrying some of the same hurt and suffering as Moja. She also has big choices to make surrounding her pregnancy. At various times, audiences will see our leading characters’ have disagreements and moments in which compassion and love are displayed. Again, the performances were all raw, heartfelt and believable. The side performance from actress Claudia Karvan is also excellent and memorable.
The 4:3 aspect ratio was something I found slightly surprising to begin with, but as the movie progressed, given the themes and drama, I found it rather suitable, yet I can’t explain why. Visually, I admired everything here. While, at times, the camera was a little shaky in vital scenes, I still admired the style and how well the drama was captured. When it comes to emotion, nothing is missed here, such as facial expressions, conversations, scenery, feelings, and tension. Some moments, including the opening and ending, are slightly ambiguous and open to interpretation, which may disappoint some audiences, but this is a minor factor.
Overall, this heavy drama delivers intense realism regarding dealing with loss, pain and sadness. It’s impossible not to feel empathy for the leads, thanks to superb performances from Loti Kovacic and Mackenzie Mazur and a side performance from the forever talented Claudia Karvan. While it is slow-paced, I was never disengaged as the drama on-screen is so well displayed here. The choice of shooting in a 4:3 aspect seems strange initially, but it complimented the feature. The opening and final moments are slightly up for interpretation, which could cause audiences to frown slightly. Moja Vesna is so touching and heartfelt that I even shed a few tears. It’s beautiful work from director Sara Kern, and I hope many movie lovers embrace the experience on the big screen. Moja Vesna (2022) is Available in Australian Cinemas from December 8th.