The intersection of identities, oppressions, and politics run through Romas Zabarauskas’ latest feature, which follows a Lithuanian corporate lawyer as he finds himself at personal and professional limits after befriending – and eventually falling in love with – a Syrian refugee who he meets on a cam service. The Lawyer, however, overtly fights against victimhood as an identity. The political realities of LGBT identity, refugee status, and sex work are ones that can define people before their own humanity and self-determination, and The Lawyer – perhaps by identifying its central character through a similarly reductive profession – takes care to reveal the personal foibles and characteristics that make each individual uniquely human.

At the same time, the film is conscious that the battle for human rights are far from over, and that the visibility of such social signifiers is of paramount importance in this ongoing struggle for dignity and recognition. From its two central characters conversing about their preconceived notions of what a victim (and a lawyer) should look like, to the veracity and care Zabarauskas and company spent in portraying refugee life in the Belgrade camps, this drama finds its power in most mundanely human moments.

Despite strong emotional connection and character work, the film’s technical construction is less solid. An overly present score somewhat hampers the film’s more reflective moments, and its unspectacular script creates a few bumpier scenes in the beginning. That said, the workmanlike dialogue emphatically clarifies its aims without pretension, lending urgency to the romance and legal battles.

The Lawyer is a socially astute, sensitive, and good-hearted look at interlocking identities, never losing the humanity of its two protagonists in the boxes where they could easily be relegated. Its closing moments bring a sense of hope for its central couple without disregarding the life-or-death stakes they engage with daily.



CAST: Eimutis Kvosciauskas, Dogac Yildiz, Darya Ekamasova

DIRECTOR: Romas Zabarauskas

WRITER: Romas Zabarauskas

SYNOPSIS: A corporate lawyer finds his clinical worldview challenges when he meets a bisexual Syrian refugee.