Updated: Sep 2
Directed by: #MarkoŽunić
Written by: #MarkoŽunić
Listen Little Man, is written and directed by Marko Žunić in what is his debut feature. If its synopsis is to be believed, the film follows a man trapped in a parallel universe as he’s forced to become normal and accept the real world. While that may sound intriguing, what Žunić instead delivers is a unique set of visuals that make up no semblance of a coherent or engaging plot whatsoever.
The main issue with the film is that there is no clear narrative. What we are instead delivered is a hodgepodge of consecutive scenes with recurring characters in different scenarios, none of which come together to make a recognisable plot. While this ambiguity is likely intentional due to the experimental nature of the film, it’s detrimental for the pacing and leaves you feeling detached from much of what you’re watching. The distinct lack of meaningful story makes the film feel far longer than its 77-minute runtime.
Though never named, we spend most of our time with a character credited as Nenormalni, who is portrayed through an energetic physical performance from Galen Filip. He roams through the film in a skin-tight suit sharing what can only be described as strange interactions with figures dressed in an equally odd fashion. When not with Nenormalni, we follow the goings on at a middle-class dinner party, that descends further into depravity as it continues. It’s unclear how much of what’s happening is real in either of these plots, which proves intriguing and frustrating in equal measure.
There’s certainly an element of social commentary at play, particularly when it comes to the conversations during the dinner party, but whatever message may have been gestating is lost come the film’s drawn-out and exhausting finale. The same can be said for Nenormalni’s journey, as it seems to include a cluster of ideas, none of which are given any real focus. While unorthodox storytelling is always exciting in film, here, Žunić’s narrative comes off as muddled and a little pretentious.
What does keep Listen Little Man consistently interesting, though, is the director’s stylistic choices. Žunić shows that he’s capable of crafting surreal imagery throughout the film, some of which can be quite disturbing. For example, one instance of a grown man wearing an oversized baby mask that could come off as comical instead leaves an unsettling impression. The film is littered with strange imagery such as this, and its uniqueness is a testament to Žunić’s vision and style.
The film is mostly presented in black and white, which suits the bleak tone and provides the chance for some bold cinematographic choices. At times, there’ll be an injection of bright purple or full colour that gives certain shots a greater impact. Much of this film has been made in the edit, with Žunić making full use of quick cuts and disorienting visual effects. All of these choices work aesthetically for the film, and have been integrated well-enough to not come off as cheap-looking.
Ultimately, Listen Little Man is more disappointing than anything else. Žunić has undoubtedly proven himself to be a capable filmmaker with the film’s experimental editing and visuals being its strongest asset. However, the sluggish pacing in the latter stages and a complete lack of meaningful characters and plot means that the film will struggle to keep even the most adventurous audiences engaged.