Advokatas (The Lawyer) is feature-length movie by famous Lithuanian movie director Romas Zabarauskas, where Ieva made her successful debut as a movie composer.
Romas Zabarauskas previous works (We Will Riot, You Can’t Escape Lithuania and his debut short, Porno Melodrama) tackle the subjects of queer love, resurgent nationalism and politics, and have been successfully shown on the festival circuit in such places as Berlin, Moscow and Bushwick. The script of "The Lawer" , penned by the director himself, tells the complicated love story between two men, a Lithuanian lawyer called Marius (played by Eimutis Kvosciauskas) and Ali (Turkish thesp Doğaç Yıldız), a Syrian refugee stuck in Belgrade. Unpacking the subjects of identity, privilege and the nature of love, the film promises an intimate experience spiced up with noir elements. The cast is enriched by the presence of actors Darya Ekamasova, Denisas Kolomyckis, Danilas Pavilionis, Neringa Bulotaite, Aiste Dirziute, Naglis Bierancas, Simonas Mozura, Clotilde Rigaud, Aiste Gramantaite and Jelena Stupljanin. Furthermore, the technical crew includes DoP Narvydas Naujalis (Isaac [+], You Can’t Escape Lithuania), composer Ieva Marija Baranauskaite and editor Ieva Veiveryte (El Padre Medico, Park ‘79). The film was entirely shot in Vilnius and Belgrade.
Director: Romas Zabarauskas
Screenwriter: Romas Zabarauskas
DoP: Narvydas Naujalis
Composer: Ieva Marija Baranauskaite
Editor: Ieva Veiveryte
Cast: Eimutis Kvoščiauskas, Dogac Yildiz, Darya Ekamasova, Denisas Kolomyckis, Danilas Pavilionis, Neringa Bulotaite, Aiste Dirziute, Naglis Bierancas, Simonas Mozura, Clotilde Rigaud, Aiste Gramantaite, Jelena Stupljanin
Reviews from the world top film critics:
"Moreover, the feature’s elegant score (courtesy of composer Ieva Marija Baranauskaite) and cinematography (lensed by DoP Narvydas Naujalis) contribute to enhancing the intimate, poetic dimension of the romance."
"Shot with a gentle realism and naturalistic style, The Lawyer captures the humanity at the heart of a refugee story with conviction something furthered by Ieva Marija Baranauskaite’s delicate piano score."
"The cinematography is very stylish indeed and the smooth, seductive jazz playing as non-diegetic pieces are a very effective accompaniment allowing the film to develop at its own pace, maintaining a similar rhythm, but also invokes a hypnotising effect throughout the film. Such musical impact also assists by creating a platform for romance in a boy meets boy trope which so far seems rather predictable given that Marius is suffering from grief. All of which is heightened by the mesmerising chemistry between Eimutis Kvoščiauskas and Doğaç Yildiz as Marius and Ali."
"The Lawyer provides us with a truly unique and visually stunning journey into what it means to be human." (...) “It is unusual to find a film that so eloquently balances a social and romantic narrative, layering its story with heartfelt emotion, while challenging public perceptions and unconscious bias. But Romas Zabarauskas achieves just that in a film that is both beautiful and haunting in equal measure, combining the freedom of love with the social challenges of identity, safety and belonging.”
"The Lawyer tells a complicated story of love and grief and it is absolutely beautiful. (...) The film had a way of making you wonder what everyone’s real motives are. The on-the-surface plot is easy to follow, but it is not always clear if things are as they seem, and I loved that. I have no doubt that everyone’s intentions were innocent, but the mistrust and uncertainty around the refugee and immigration process just meant that it is a feeling that permeates the entire film, to amazing effect. (...) the 97-minute runtime just flies by.”
"As Marius, Eimutis Kvoščiauskas is excellent: confident and privileged, used to getting his own way. (...) But despite Marius’s comfort in his own skin, Kvoščiauskas gives him just the slightest vulnerability that ensures that we are still interested in his next move. Marius’s self-assuredness is matched by Ali’s, the Syrian refugee. Ali doesn’t want to be rescued: as he says, he doesn’t need a Prince Charming. Doğaç Yıldız is enigmatic as the handsome Syrian, seemingly unfazed by everything, and his smiles suggest that he has his own agenda (...) Coldly detached, The Lawyer suggests that Romas Zabarauskas is a name to watch."
“Writer and director Romas Zabarauskas uses his experience as a Lithuanian film director to inject copious amounts of realism into his characters… Kvoščiauskas and Yıldız’s acting dynamic is incredibly raw… Zabarauskas takes a sensitive approach with the film’s activism. This is a story about individuals, reflected in an unpredictable and delicate script – along with a very unexpected plot… Zabarauskas offers audiences a deeply thought-provoking contextual story through the relatability of a same-sex romance and does so very effectively.”
"The acting by the two leads is solid, believable and incredibly delicate. It is perhaps the best quality of Zabarauskas’ film, along with an engaging script and excellent direction that moulds a unique atmosphere, full of melancholy and fragility. The mise-en-scène is always neat, almost minimalistic, and effectively stylises the main focus of the film – namely, the troubled love story between Ali and Marius. Throughout the movie, the world around the two lovers acts both as a backdrop and as an obstacle. Gradually, it becomes a metaphor for their isolation and marginalisation in a time and a place (today’s Serbia) where “being different” is still problematic. (...) On the whole, the movie, with its superb directing choices, succeeds in telling a new, interesting story about diversity while steering clear of any rhetorical trappings."
"The Lawyer (or Advokatas, as it was originally titled) is a potently political, interpersonal exploration of queer identity within Europe. (...) The Lawyer is a very personal film, condensing the story primarily down to its two main characters and their relationship with each other (as well as with their own queer identities). Reaching for a higher-level of independent filmmaking, Zabarauskas makes a fine stand against prejudicial boundaries, tackling complex issues with confidence and simplicity."
"Lithuanian queer filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas has skillfully woven together an unusual queer romance that also packs a powerful message about the plight of LGBTQ Syrian refugees stranded in Europe, and at the same gives such a positivity to the film’s queerness. It’s not only all very impressive, but throughly entertaining too. (...) Ali teaches Marius about connecting with each other without just jumping in bed. It’s one of the subtle twists that Zabarauskas has peppered through the story that sets his movie on a higher plane than other queer romances. (...) It's a compelling story, beautifully told, and with such convincing and authentic performances from both Kvosciauskas and Yildiz."
"The boldness surfaces in the complex portrayal of Ali. The character is a straight-acting bisexual who feels like he’s not gay-looking enough to meet the criteria for special LGBT refugee initiatives. Against all odds, he misses his homeland and refuses to be seen as a victim. (...) For his part, Marius has blinded himself to the pointlessness of his life and there’s enough in Kvoščiauskas’s take on the character to suggest that, in a deep corner of his soul, he has not fully come to terms with who he is. (...) Thanks to DOP Narvydas Naujalis, all of this comes across as a very polished affair, with precise camerawork and vivid colours coalescing into exuberant shots (the fact that the two leads are easy on the eye does not hurt either)."
"Performances are equally understated, creating a vivid sense of authenticity. At the centre, Kvoščiauskas quietly reveals how Marius is grappling with his feelings. It's a delicate performance, with a lot going on under the surface as Marius finds himself in a variety of unexpected situations. He's a warm, likeable man, so his interaction with each of the other characters has real depth. Scenes with Ekamasova's colourful Darya have a terrific kick to them, while his chemistry with Yıldız's intelligent, engaged, almost too-dishy Ali is earthy and real."
"[The Lawyer is] not only aesthetically pleasing but is equally a riveting watch (…) Mesmerising chemistry between Eimutis Kvoščiauskas and Doğaç Yıldız as Marius and Ali (…) The Lawyer is unique in imbuing a sense of beauty and romance within the subject matter of the political status of Syrian refugees. (…) The effects of the Syrian war and the concept of political prisoners are subtly examined from a different perspective in The Lawyer compared to recent, powerful documentaries such as For Sama and The Cave. The inclusion of Ali’s political situation elevates the film beyond merely portraying a tale of star-crossed love.”
[The Lawyer is] "visually stunning, unique and honest... impeccable chemistry between Kvoščiauskas and Yildiz."
"For a film that explores such topical and tough themes, hope and positivity remains throughout the direction. The approach is not sombre and thus doesn’t inspire pity or hone down on the victimisation of LGBTQ+ refugees. Instead, the film explores their humanity in a powerful way, revealing traits which make us all uniquely human."
English video trailer: