Rich film-maker Romas (Denisas Kolomyckis) decides to help Indre (Irina Lavrinovic), the star of his movie, when she murders her mother. The two hatch a plan to help her escape from Lithuania and they are aided by Romas’ reluctant Mexican boyfriend Carlos (Adrian Escobar). Once they hit the road, Romas starts to film their adventures with his smartphone in the hope of turning their experiences into an experimental film. As the trio spend time together, secrets and emotions are stirred up taking their friendships in unexpected directions.
You Can’t Escape Lithuania is the latest film from writer/director Romas Zabarauskas. The central character in the film is a fictionalised version of Zabarauskas, giving the proceedings a bit of an unnerving feel to them. Things start off promisingly when Indre turns up at Romas apartment and takes off her gloves to reveal bloodied hands. She quickly explains how she came to murder her mother and soon the plan to hit the road and help her get out of the country is hatched.
From that point on the film threatens to tread the familiar tropes of a road movie with a love triangle at the heart. Thankfully as it gets going, things become more complicated and much more sinister than that creating an interesting dynamic between the trio. The relationship between Romas and Carlos isn’t as it first seems and Indre is much more than the spoiled leading actress you meet in the film’s opening moments.
One of the biggest problems with You Can’t Escape Lithuania is that it has too uneven a tone. Is it a crime film? Or a roadtrip movie? An erotic thriller maybe? By the time the credits roll, you have the idea that the filmmaker himself is unsure what kind of film he was making, which draws parallels with the film-within-a-film that unfolds on screen.
Another area the film falls own is with its character development. The three characters are at best two dimensional with Carlos the most under-developed of them all. Why is he constantly naked? No one knows! Zabarauskas does a better job of fleshing out Indre’s character but he (perhaps purposely) leaves his fictionalised self a complete enigma. There’s no apparent motivation for his actions and that becomes frustrating, especially by the dark turn the film takes toward the end.
There’s a decent story somewhere in You Can’t Escape Lithuania. The film is certainly intriguing and it kept my attention but tonally it’s all over the place. I also don’t particularly understand why Zabarauskas chose to fictionalise himself as the main character when that character could have been called anything. There are glimpses of promise among the uneven story but sadly not enough to make this a true standout.
Cast: Denisas Kolomyckis, Irina Lavrinovic, Adrian Escobar Director: Romas Zabarauskas Writer: Romas Zabarauskas Certificate: 18 Duration: 80 mins Released By: TLA Releasing Release Date: 10th July 2017