The Suspicious Border Guard, the Pretty Girls & the Deer

I always love looking out for depictions of Slovakia on TV and Film – mostly Slovak or Czech ones, admittedly, but the occasional Western European one too.

The other week I watched Move On, a gritty European road movie which was released in 2012 in eight staggered short episodes online. A whole section (episode 3) of Move On, about an international man of mystery, played by Mads Mikkelsen, and his attempts to deliver a yet-more mysterious silver suitcase across Europe, is entirely dedicated to Slovakia. In fact, let’s give Slovakia a little more kudos: the eight different episodes respectively featured eight different European countries, and Slovakia was one of them. Well, let’s face it. After less fortunate representations in the Hostel series of gory horror films and 2004’s highly forgettable Eurotrip it was about time Slovakia got a slightly more realistic movie portrayal.

Move On is actually a pretty compelling thriller – although it’s presumably set before Slovakia became part of Schengen in 2007, as the first scene sees a rather tense border interrogation for our protagonist. It really renders Slovakia as still part of the Communist Bloc with flashlights scanning the car, surly armed guards growling “why you want to come to Slovakia?” and salivating alsatians champing at the bit to get their teeth into unwelcome newcomers should those grim-faced border officials so command.

Mikkelsen (aka Nicholas) is tired in this episode (it’s a long drive from the Netherlands, where he set out in episode one), so it’s a relief when he gets passed the guards and on into Bratislava. Here he checks in to a smart-looking hotel (the Austria Trend Hotel perhaps – Nicholas is an intense character who looks like he needs to be in the thick of the action) and immediately bumps into a hot chick who is clearly stricken with Nicholas after a mere glance of him waiting for the lift. Nicholas is too fatigued for a one night stand, however (when hot chicks start making suggestive remarks to you in lifts even the most desirable of us men have to treat the move with caution, and at least entertain the thought that they might be spies sent to assassinate us, so such speculations are probably also passing through his mind). In any case, our protagonist has to prepare for what will prove to be a demanding driving stunt next day.

The stunt involves losing the car tailing him by a canny manoeuvre between two approaching trams, and then high-speed reversing into an underground parking lot (to be fair in Bratislava he’d have had several options in that regard). Its a neat move, but Slovak drivers do attempt similar things on the highways every day – and they don’t even charge you one Euro cent to watch.

A few more tense moments and he’s on back the road – to Serbia this time. But the best-laid plans seldom play out as anticipated and, driving fast (he’s a good driver, he probably couldn’t resist) along a country lane he accidentally writes off his car after a collision with a deer. The accident was 100% the deer’s fault.

Crashed car = big problem. Nicholas has a long distance yet to drive.

But help is at hand, in the form of the second – and still hotter – chick of the episode, pulling up in a battered old truck she’s been hitching a lift in. I very much doubt such a beautiful hitch-hiker has ever alighted from such a battered old truck but our protagonist (currently sitting disconsolately in a closed, middle-of-nowhere garage) is hardly in a position to mull over the anomaly for too long. The girl and the amenable old driver are going “where the winds blow” which isn’t amazingly helpful, actually, for Nicholas, who needs to get down to Southern Europe, pronto. But love interest number 2 is pretty, and he’s got no better offers, so what the Hell. At least it’s wheels, right?

Methinks, however, that this love interest (Slovak actress Gabriela Marcinkova, who hails from the good city of Prešov) is here to stay a while…

Episode 4 sheds a little more light on that. Just a little. Because the grand finale has to take place in that fabled frontier between west and east… that hotbed of espionage… that’s right. Berlin. And Nicholas is still very far from Berlin.

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