Experimental storytelling can be a fascinating beast. Take for instance the elliptical nature of Majnuni. This is the not-so-clear story of Adnan (Adnan Omerovic), a man who has dealings and entanglements with a series of characters one night in Sarajevo. Part Linklater, part Altman, and firmly Eastern European, Majnuni explores the lives of a disparate group of individuals over one night in a city as torn as they are. The film works, not for the style, as much but for the story of souls connected that it attempts to tell.
We begin as Adnan is schlepping a drunk man (Barry Del Sherman) home. Aghast his wife (Nela Bazdar) opens the door and helps pull him to bed. The lady thanks Adnan for looking after him, only to have Adnan then offer her a roll of bills with him insisting, “This is your money.” The woman refuses the cash and, disgusted with the whole situation throws Adnan out. From this first scene, we are left with far more questions than answers and, it seems that is precisely what writers Adnan Omerović, Drew Hoffman, and Kouros Alaghband are going for.

With long tracking shots that hold on seemingly pallid action, directors Kouros Alaghband and Drew Hoffman train us early on to observe. Entering a sort of dreamlike state of consciousness, Adnan breezes through one scenario after the other, with few conventional storytelling devices apparent to guide us. Adnan, for instance, takes a hot bath after a long night only to retire to the couch. He then begins flipping channels, watching the moments of other character’s lives play out like a show on the screen before him. In another moment he is suddenly attempting to make good with his performer girlfriend before suffering a seizure in a cab then stealing it. The actual story beats seem secondary to the characters and their condition.

There is a talent to be seen here, in particular with Alaghband and Hoffman’s direction. They like their long shots, but they do fill them with a quiet observational tone that draws the viewer in. The patient viewer is rewarded though with some particularly haunting moments. They have also assembled a respectable ensemble of characters that certainly hold the screen. Truth be told I really would have loved to have seen a bit more of  Nela Bazdar and her storyline involving a U.S. Ambassador. There are some achingly sad moments there that say quite a bit about staying with what we know even though it might not be the best for us.

I can’t say that I loved Majnuni. I can say that I appreciated it for what it attempted to do in creating a new language in storytelling. For its experiments alone Majnuni should be respected.

6 out of 10 stars.

Majnuni
RATING: UR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1hr 36 Mins.
Directed By:
Kouros Alaghband, Drew Hoffman
Written By: