«Laugh or die»: cheating comedy or a portrait of time?

At first glance this story is about an outstanding director of the art-house who was forced to shoot a comedy. He will be killed if he does not make the specially selected experts laugh. But do not jump into conclusion. Actually the movie is not so simple, all infant Ukrainian film industry is depicted as a mirror resenting its strict rules.

 The film «Laugh or die» director Dmitro Tomashpolsky raises a painful for Ukrainian filmmakers issue whether it is necessary to shoot a movie for wide distribution or to focus on professional judges of film festivals? What is more essential to produce product that you want to do, relying on your own taste, or betray yourself and be successful and understood by the mass audience?

«In a lot of moments the experience of the protagonist of the film coincides with my personal reflections. I had to shoot a lot of shit just to survive like him. During the film its director was severely beaten many times. Do not take it as literal violence. I wanted to show the struggle of his greatness with the circumstances, the throws between “I want” and “I need”», – explains Dmitro Tomashpolsky.

 

Tomashpolsky has been accused by critics of filming an exclusively Ukrainian comedy.  They said that the story about the peculiarities of national cinema production is unlikely to be understandable to anyone outside of our country. Despite the fact that «Laugh or die» does not avoid mentionig humorous traditions Gargantyou and Pantagruel by French writer Rabelais. In addition, the authors are not afraid to joke about the oncological illnesses (the main heroine of the film, Clowness Bebe suffered from cancer), and such black humor is more understandable in the United States than in Ukraine.

In any case, the «Laugh or die» is a new unusual breath for national cinema, it  does not look like a typical comedy and has its own unique style and  it makes you think. After the titles, the authors advise everyone who did not             get the message to watch this movie again and repeat doing that until they become an admirer of it.

Olena Solodovnikova