Whilst the last resort for the most serious crimes in civilised countries is life imprisonment, that doesn’t mean to say that the bad guys always get their comeuppance. Or if they do, the sentence they deserve. And even if they do face incarceration, they can often halve their time behind bars for ‘good behaviour’. Whilst this may aid rehabilitation, possibly, it does nothing to put the victims’ minds at rest or allow them to move on with their lives.
This was the fact faced by director Audrius Mickevicius when he discovered that his brother had been beaten to death by two men. When they escaped the harshest judgement, he was incensed. After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, he decides to go into Lukiškės Prison in Vilnius to meet two prisoners, Rimas and Rolandas, who are serving life sentences. This attempt to come to terms with his anger and find forgiveness would be his last act.
Completed by Nerijus Milerius after Mickevicius‘s death, Exemplary Behaviour is a thoughtful and open-minded documentary about social justice and the morality of life imprisonment. Both subjects are lively characters, especially the reflective Rolandas. It’s extraordinary how they manage to keep up such positivity and hope in the face of spending a lifetime behind bars. Exemplary Behaviour is a strange and haunting portrait of a flawed system.
Exemplary Behaviour screed at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.