The delicate balance between personal emotions and professional responsibilities forms the core of the first two episodes of Jasmila Zbanic’s I Know Your Soul. Starring Jasna Duricic, Lazar Dragojevic and Ermin Bravo, the show examines familial bonds, societal expectations and the shadows that secrets cast over relationships. With the first two episodes directed by Alen Drljevic, the series promises an exploration of complex human emotions, social pressures and intricate mysteries that don’t just lie outside but within the very confines of our homes.
Young Emir is smoking a cigarette staring into the void on his rooftop. Looks like teen angst, right? Wrong. He jumps off the ledge to his death, which causes prosecutor Nevena, and detective Džandžo begins investigating. The prosecutor retraces his steps and finds there were no signs of foul play, and now she has to break the news to Emir’s parents Goran and Vedrana. At their home they look around his room and don’t find anything unusual. Neneva’s son Dino is a high school slacker and wannabe rapper who likes to upload his bootleg music videos to YouTube. He’s bitter about his parents’ divorce, but his father Haris is in his life trying to persuade his son and ex-wife to move back in with him. When it’s uncovered that Dino and Emir went to the same school, things go downhill for her.
Nevena gets it from all sides. She gets backlash from the boy’s family when accused of moving too slowly with the case, she’s handling a divorce, and her job doesn’t care. As the mystery unravels, she finds there might be a connection between Emir and Dino. This is further solidified when Goran points the finger at Dino as being the reason for his son’s death. Guided by maternal instincts and a sense of duty, she searches for the truth amidst adversity. Unfortunately, Nevena’s knack for uncovering facts, which makes her excellent at her job, positions her against her son, whom she begins to doubt.
One of the standout features of this pilot episode is its ability to engender curiosity. While some pilots aim to neatly tie up their narrative threads, the first episode leaves viewers riddled with questions. Central among them is the enigma surrounding Dino. Is he guilty? Is he being truthful? This is a testament to the episode’s unique qualities. There is a serious moral quandary where Neneva must wrestle between the love of her son and her love of facts. The acting by Djuricic and Dragojevic is solid as the main mother-and-son relationship, and Drlijevic’s direction is simple but remains accessible and captivating. But the real power is in its story.
The series drops major plot points early on, so the audience is in on the secret before the characters are. Common storytelling wisdom often includes suspense built on characters and the audience discovering truths together. It surprisingly works well as writer Zbanic crafts this choice not as a simple reveal but as an intricate mystery, but the thematic landscape isn’t limited to just one thing.
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I Know Your Soul dives deep into the disparities created by class divide, an issue that resonates globally. The show does a great job in its examination of the tragedies that emerge from society’s deep-rooted inequalities. However, at its center, the series also provides commentary on family and relationships. It underscores the idea that life is layered, and often we’re left grappling with the realization that we might not know our loved ones as well as we believed. This messaging becomes an almost haunting revelation for anyone who’s ever faced the complexities of human relationships.
The multifaceted nature of those relationships and the environmental structures that form them is a hallmark of this series. The story unfolds as a poignant reminder of the facades we maintain and the startling truths that lie beneath them. With a strong narrative and grounded characters, it challenges us to confront the unsettling question: Do we ever truly know someone’s soul?
Title: I Know Your Soul
Festival: Venice (Out of Competition)
Distributor/sales: Beta Film
Directors: Alen Drjević and Nermin Hamzagić
Created by: Jasmila Žbanić
Cast: Jasna Duricic, Lazar Dragojevic, Ermin Bravo
Running time: 1 hr, 25 min (two episodes)
Content Source: deadline.com