The opening minutes of Antonio Lukich's Luxembourg, Luxembourg begins with a fascinating chase sequence. In a harrowing edit, the sounds of Boney M accompany the memories and thrills of a Ukrainian child's upbringing within a crime-ridden family. We hear the kitschy tune of Daddy Cool, as we observe the desolate landscape of Lubny through a speeding cargo-train. The introduction is simultaneously stylish and controlled. There's a clear sense of methodical direction and thought in Lukich's opening bargain with the viewer, as the film's leads are shown in their adolescent form with twinkly-eyed innocence. Hefty narration frolics with a satisfying rhythm, where the remainder of the film's elongated journey fails to reach the same exhilarating heights of its pulpy opener.
Constantly wrangling between colliding subplots, Luxembourg, Luxembourg suffers from an intense case of narrative indecisiveness. Attempting to replicate the unpredictability of daily routine, Lukich's film is compact with needless filler, which hinders its central themes. There's an enriching tapestry of ideas at the core of the narrative, where its emotional endgame lies deep within the crux of the protagonist's reconciliation with his presumably frail father. Unfortunately, given the lack of major conflict surrounding their internal desire for answers, the film instead continuously relies on additional filler to compact its runtime. There's a constant conflict of interest, as the piece continuously finds itself in a pandering identity crisis.
Luxembourg, Luxembourg begins to loosely cover the epicenter of violence at the core of its depicted Ukrainian municipality. We gently become accustomed to Lubny's transport system, police network, and even the underground drug trafficking which intersects the city's grid. The narrative becomes almost derivative in its well-intentioned pursuits, as the titular conflict is only propelled after the start of the film's third act and subsequent world-building. There's mild intrigue to the aforementioned subplots and anthropological insight, yet nothing satisfies the itch to learn more about its unwinding themes on brotherhood and masculinity. As the film abruptly ties loose ends needed to conclude its aimless portrait of a family under the siege of an absent father-figure, the final scene arrives at its destination with little emotional payoff.
For a sophomore feature, there's still plenty of lessons to be learnt for young Antonio Lukich and his growing repertoire of future feature films. Luxembourg, Luxembourg is a structural mess, as it attempts to make up for its uneven storytelling with a formidable array of confident performances from a cast of newcomer talent. Far from a complete train-wreck, Luxembourg, Luxembourg is an underwritten cultural examination on family-ties and misconstrued labels — which haunts the life and legacy of a crumbling patriarch.