September 13, 2019
‘The Load,’ Ognjen Glavonić’s austere Cannes premiere, is a tense thriller without the action sequences.
Ognjen Glavonić was a teenager when NATO bombed Yugoslavia in 1999. The airstrike campaign went on for so long that it became a grisly part of everyday life. In fact, for many who survived the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the somber reality of war was quotidian—the explosions, the omnipresent scent of danger, the small, desperate acts of survival. It is here that Glavonić situates his narrative feature debut, about a seemingly innocuous act of survival that winds up implicating a civilian in a war crime.
The Load is a day in the life of truck driver Vlada (Leon Lucev), who undertakes a dangerous journey from Kosovo to Belgrade transporting unknown, top-secret cargo. His instructions: drive, don’t stop until you’ve arrived, don’t attract attention, and absolutely do not unlock the back of the truck. It’s clear Vlada is uncomfortable taking the job, but the paycheck is his only hope of feeding his family.