Film Review: Secret Ingredient (Iscelitel)
Directed by Gjorce Stavreski
Written by Gjorce Stavreski
Starring Blagoj Veselinov, Anastas Tanovski, Aksel Mehmet
Country: Macedonia, Greece
Secret Ingredient is a Macedonian film that follows the main character, Vele, who goes to extreme measures to help his father, Sazdo, suffering from lung cancer. The two live outside the main town of Macedonia, Skopje, in small, rundown apartment, and it becomes clear the community and possibly the country is struggling financially.
Vele prevents Sazdo from committing suicide as he suffers from the pain of cancer. They're unable to afford medication as it's not covered by their insurance, so Vele looks at other options. the homeopathic treatment of "memory water" was too ridiculous for him to support, although throngs of people were lined up to use it as a cure-all. He attempts to rob the pharmacy without luck while his father continues to decline. He then stumbles upon a package of marijuana that's been hidden by local criminals.
Vele takes the marijuana and after some research notices that it might help with pain relief for cancer patients. He then bakes a cake using the marijuana as a "secret ingredient" and feeds it to his father without telling him. It works and he's nearly pain-free which draws a lot of attention from the neighborhood who's looking for a cure for their own ailments. At the same time, the criminals search for whoever stole the drugs, and the drama escalates.
The film has a great mix of light drama and comedy. Some of the heavy topics are tackled in a gentle way which still allows the audience to laugh at the character's joke. It's an interesting look into the lives of the blue-collar workers of Macedonia which also appears to be a commentary on their country's economy and healthcare system. Overall it's a well-rounded film that's enjoyable to viewers.