MODRA written and directed by Ingrid Veninger, with Hallie Switzer, Alexander Gammal, Branislav Dugovic and Elena Dugovicova. A Mongrel Media release. 80 minutes. Opens Friday (February 11). For venues, trailers and times, see Listings. Rating: NNNN
Ingrid Veninger's solo directorial debut is of a piece with her 2008 collaboration with Simon Reynolds, Only - an intimately scaled and emotionally vivid study of two young people forging a connection.
This time, it's a Toronto girl (Veninger's real-life daughter Hallie Switzer) visiting family in Slovakia and a schoolmate (Alexander Gammal) who's tagged along on a whim. Stuck together, with everyone assuming they're a couple, they embark on an awkward vacation while trying to negotiate the terms of their evolving relationship.
Switzer and Gammal are naturals, investing their vulnerable characters with totally believable mood swings and insecurities, and Veninger's deceptively relaxed style captures every glance, outburst and hesitation. One day they'll look back at this week and realize it helped make them who they are. But they're not there yet.