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Zoran Tadić’s The Third Woman

An analytical review of the new film, a postmodernist »remake« of Green/Reed The Third Man, by Zoran Tadić.

The impressive succession of Zoran Tadić’s films in the eighties (concluded with his weakest work Eagle, 1990) has placed him among the most crucial Croatian filmmakers. After 7 year break he reemerged with the film The Third Woman (Treća žena, 1997), a film atypical for him. Though his films have always had a suggestion of this or that genre frame (thriller, horror, hints of fantastic) they were basically socio-ethical, existentialist dramas, concerned with a serious investigation of different aspects of human existence, meditative in nature, with metaphysical hints. Though Tadić has kept this pro-genre orientation in The Third Woman, he did it now in a completely different manner: as an intertextual, metafilm game, not as a means of an existential analysis. He took over the Reed’s film, transferred it into the recent wartime Zagreb, changed the gender of the main characters and infused it with the current socio-ethical messages. Unlike de Palma, who has been successfully doing the same thing over and over again, Zoran Tadić, unfortunately, was not up to this intertextual task.

Basically, he did not succeed in a reconstruction of the motivation network within the new situational coordinates, and the consequence was a lack of persuasiveness of the narrative flow of the film, and some dilettante narrative solutions. Some hinted complex motivational solution (latent sexually based psychoanalytical bondage between the two basic female characters — the one in the Joseph Cotton’s role, and the other in the Orson Welles’s role) were not developed. Though seriously flowed, The Third Woman is not so bad film as a rumor says. The plot is still interesting, the photography is a good one, the direction is correct though not up to the Tadić’s best abilities, and there is a surprising and witty ending. Anyway, it would be better for Tadić to continue work in the manner he proved to be good at.

Damir Radić

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