Review: The Parade
It’s so easy to take our human rights for granted. After all, we live in an age of civil partnerships and are spoilt for choice with our gay pride marches in London, Brighton and Manchester.
Srđan Dragojević‘s film The Parade shows us that not everywhere is like this, and proffers a tragi-comic look at a beleaguered group’s struggles to put on a Gay Pride parade in Belgrade. They are a small group, and understandably so, as previous gay parades in Serbia have ended in violence, with violent attacks by hooligans happening under the eyes of the police who stand by and do nothing.
The film focuses on Mirko and Radmilo, a gay couple who are trying against all odds to organise a LGBT pride march. However, they are at odds with one another, as Mirko, a wedding planner, is more strident in his approach, while Radmilo wants to live a quiet life, happy to tend to sick and wounded animals at his vet’s practice.
Their lives are disrupted when Mickey, a macho, knuckle-dragging brute of a man arrives. The camera pans across his house, decorated with memorabilia from his days in the Bosnian War – guns, jackets with bullet holes and patriotic flags displayed on the walls.
But Mickey has two loves – his fiancé Pearl and his bulldog – and we are not sure which the Serbian gangster loves more.
When Mickey’s bulldog is shot by his enemies, Radmilo the vet comes to the rescue and saves the mutt. In the former Serb soldier’s black-and-white code of honour, he now owes Radmilo a big favour.
Radmilo declines an offer of money and instead wants Mickey and his group of thugs to protect the putative gay pride march.
This leads to an interesting internal conflict for Mickey. He comes out with all the usual stereotypical fears of the bigoted heterosexual man – backs against the wall, revulsion at effeminacy and concerns that gayness is catching.
These views are nothing new and we’ve seen it all before in British sitcoms. But this well-trodden path is forgiven as we watch the character of Mickey change. He slowly and painfully moves from his position of wanting to kill all “faggots”, to putting his arm around Radmilo at the gay pride march at the movie’s end.
The film’s genre veers from comedy to a strange twist on the buddy movie, when Mickey and Radmilo take to the road in a pink Mini, as they journey to find a motley assortment of the Serbian gangsters old cronies from the war to help protect the gay pride march.
It’s at this point that the film picks up and these two men – completely at odds with one another – overcome their differences and grudgingly begin to like one another.
One of the best – and funniest – performances comes from Mickey’s girlfriend, Pearl (played by Hristina Popović), whose dreams of a glamorous wedding seem destined to be trashed by her brutish boyfriend.
But woe betide anyone who gets on the wrong side of the beauty parlour owner, who is fearless in laying into the homophobic Neo-Nazis, lobbing her designer shoes at them with deadly accuracy.
“She’s even worse than he [the boyfriend] is,” says an impressed Mirko.
The Parade isn’t going to win any awards for best photography or most innovative storyline. But it really is a must-see film which tugs at the heart-strings. The shocking ending will leave you in tears and shake you out of torpor and ennui into an outrage about the lack of human rights that still continue within the Mediterranean.
The Parade demonstrates that love really does conquer all.
The Parade was presented as part of The Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Words: Fiona Keating
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