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Film / Midwinter Night's Dream

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Midwinter Night's Dream, originally titled San zimske noći, is a 2004 Serbian drama film about The Yugoslav Wars written by Filip David and Goran Paskaljević and directed by Paskaljević.

Lazar (Lazar Ristovski) returns to his hometown after finishing a ten-year prison sentence to reclaim his dead mother's house. When he gets there, he finds two squatters: Jasna (Jasna Žalica) and her autistic daughter Jovana (Jovana Mitić). His first instinct is to kick them out, but he decides to let them stay when he sees the miserable conditions of the homeless shelter. He soon falls in love with Jasna and comes to see Jovana as a daughter.

Midwinter Night's Dream contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: After Lazar defected from the army, he was so traumatized by what he'd seen and done that he spent most of his time drunk.
  • Angry Collar Grab: Lazar does this to a man who harasses Jasna at her job.
  • Ballroom Blitz: During his time in the army, Lazar looked through the windows of a house and saw a group of people gathered around a table, singing and celebrating. He and his fellow soldiers smashed the windows with Kalashnikovs and killed everyone in ten seconds.
  • Broken Record: Jovana's echolalia causes her to sound like one sometimes.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Lazar has these when he dreams about the war.
  • Changeling Tale: The teacher at Jovana's special needs school tells Lazar that some people think autistics are changelings, as they don't seem to be of this world.
  • Cry into Chest: Jovana cries into Lazar's chest after Jasna is killed.
  • Driven to Suicide: At the end of the movie, Lazar shoots himself, believing the army has finally caught him.
  • Eyes Always Averted: Jovana doesn't usually look people in the face, despite Lazar's attempts at forcing eye contact on her.
  • Forced into Evil: Lazar was conscripted into the army and forced to commit atrocities against civilians.
  • Honorary Uncle: Lazar refers to himself as Jovana's Uncle Lazar.
  • I Die Free: After he defected, Lazar threw away his Kalashnikov, but he kept his revolver so he could kill himself if the soldiers ever caught him.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Towards the end of the movie, Jovana starts calling out for her mother and leaves Lazar's car, apparently to look for her. Unfortunately for her, Jasna has been killed. Her corpse is in the back seat of Lazar's car.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Lazar defected from the army after participating in a particularly gruesome masacre.
  • Ms. Exposition: Jovana's teacher, who explains autism to Lazar.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jovana's father walked out on her when she turned out to be disabled.
  • Parental Substitute: Lazar becomes one to Jovana, and even tells his family she's his daughter.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Lazar says "Please don't leave me alone" when Jovana wanders off close to the end of the movie.
  • Sensory Overload: Jovana spends a lot of time with her fingers in her ears, such as when a group of overenthusiastic sports fans surround Lazar's car, or when the audience applauds her in the school play.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Lazar still suffers from nightmares and flashbacks of his time in the army.
  • Shower of Angst: When she's scared, Jovana runs into the bathroom, turns on the shower, and stands under the water with her clothes on.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Jasna works a crappy job as a waitress to support herself and Jovana.
  • Tears of Remorse: Lazar cries when he goes to visit the mother of his best friend, whom he killed in a drunken bar fight.
  • Title In: "Serbia, winter 2004."
  • War Refugees: Jasna and Jovana fled their hometown after Jasna's family was killed and their house was burned.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Jasna has tried all kinds of bogus treatments for Jovana's autism. Now she has more or less come to accept it, but she still longs for Jovana to wake up normal someday. Meanwhile, Lazar makes several ill-advised attempts at drawing Jovana out of her "shell," including an exorcism.