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MOVIES (GFF 2022): Hive - Review

Hive is a powerful, deeply rewarding but also melancholic and understated drama based on a true story. It makes its point clear from the start: whilst innocent people are missing as a result of war, for those left behind, there can be no happy ending – introducing us to Fahrije Hoti, who plays the role of a woman whose husband want missing in the Kosovo War. Through Yllka Gashi’s haunting portrayal of a woman in search for her missing husband we follow her fight against society’s norms, traditions in her way at every turn. By keeping things simple the film never allows itself to get overly complicated, there are moments of uplift in there but much of the film feels understandably downbeat given its subject matter – which in itself is nothing new put to film, but that doesn’t stop it from being as harrowing and as effective as they come.

Time is running out for Fahrije and she knows it just as much as the audience does – her husband’s saw table is sold prompting an argument with her daughter, and a solution is formed in a way that stands in solidarity with other hardworking women of the piece. From the moment we are introduced to Fahrje we are made clear as to what she is up against – her car window is smashed because she knows how to drive, and male buyers treat her differently for daring to take the initiative. Hostility is there, bleak and uncomfortable at every turn – undercut by the film’s stirring moments of humanity – knowing this is a true story and knowing the outcome of that true story will rob you of knowing where its ending lies – but that doesn’t stop Hive from leaving any less of an impression in the journey that it tells to get there.

Much of the weight of selling Fahrije as a character lies on Yllka Gashi’s shoulders and she carries it superbly, human characters at the heart of Hive is the film’s biggest strength and it should be applauded in its commitment to them. There isn’t an outwardly glamourous approach – it all feels decidedly neorealist, but not to praise Alex Bloom’s impressive cinematography would be an omission. Every environment feels natural to the characters that inhabit them, and there is never once a feeling that they’re on a film set. It feels wholly immersive as the audience is transplanted inside Fahrije head – leading to a backdrop that feels rich and complex in every way.

You could make a strong argument that Hive was robbed of a best international feature nomination – the punch it packs in its tight eighty-four-minute runtime leaves a distinctively clear impression that will stay with you long after it’s ended. Justifiable of every bit of its Sundance awards fame – the first film that sprang to mind while watching this was Quo Vadis, Aida? - both as equally as upsetting as each other.


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