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The Mystery of Green Hill

(2017, Černić)
A film from Croatia

"Some are lucky with fish, some are lucky with thieves."

It is the '60s and a rag-tag group of friends set out to uncover a mystery in their home town! If this sounds like probably a dozen of films and TV shows, it is because there are a dozen of films and TV shows with a similar premise. Change the '60s to the '80s and you have Stand by Me, The Goonies, It, and more recently Stranger Things and It. Why? Probably because this formula lends itself to likable characters and an intriguing plot, and this film is no exception.

Set in Croatia, The Mystery of Green Hill follows a group of five friends as they set out to investigate a series of burglaries in their rural home town of Green Hill. As is usual, the five kids fit the typical stereotypes: there's the main kid, Koko (Marko Tocilj), there's the romantic one, the "nerdy" one (big glasses and all), the cynical one, and the "fat" one. Fortunately, the five actors have a solid chemistry, and although none of them are bad actors, it anyway compensates for whatever they may lack in acting talent.

The story about the burglaries is intriguing, and so are the ways the kids go to try to solve it. However, the pace is a bit off, as it juggles the main story with some brief subplots about the kid's relatives, as well as their daily mingling as they hang out around town or in the lake fishing (hence the above quote as they have fun fishing). There is a bit of a payoff with these subplots in the end, but I think the execution in the middle could've been better. Overall, the direction is pretty solid and the film is entertaining, even if feels a bit generic.

I found out later that this was based on a set of children/teen novels from writer Ivan Kušan. He ended up writing several others with the same characters, primarily Koko. Two of these were actually adapted in 2011 and 2013 by his own son, Daniel. Both films feature the main kid dealing with some kind of mystery, and were successfully received in Croatia. You know, some are lucky with fish, some are lucky with thieves, some are lucky with mystery novels for children/teens.