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  Take Me Somewhere Nice Bosnian Bother
Year: 2019
Director: Ena Sendijarevic
Stars: Sara Luna Zoric, Lazar Dragojevic, Ernad Prnjavorac, Sanja Buric, Jasna Djuricic, Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, Mario Knezovic, Ivana Vojinovic, Ali Zijlstra
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alma (Sara Luna Zoric) is a Dutch teenager whose parents are Bosnian, not that she has seen much of her father since she and her mother settled in The Netherlands. However, she has just received news that said father has been very ill recently, and she decides to reconcile with him as he lies in his hospital bed, so plans out a journey without her mother back to Bosnia. She is coached in various phrases to use to get about, then arranges to be picked up in Sarajevo by her cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac), who is around her age, so he can drive her to the town where her parent is recuperating. But things fail to go to plan, and soon Alma is on the road to nowhere in particular...

Seems for many an indie filmmaker a journey home is a fruitful subject for them to consider for their features, and here was Bosnian Ena Sendijarevic taking a long, hard look at her homeland and finding it somewhat lacking. Had this been a view taken by a non-Bosnian, there may have been an international incident, but she was presumed to know of which she spake, and therefore excused - but that did not mean her countrymen and women liked it much, the unflattering depiction of her fellow citizens not exactly a great advertisement for the place. Take a look at the last ten minutes and you would see a writer and director who was displaying some decidedly mixed feelings.

Indeed, although not quite at Eli Roth's Hostel level for a dim view of Eastern Europe (this wasn't a horror movie), it would be difficult to see much attraction for showing up in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a holiday, in fact it would be hard to see the attraction even if you were a resident there. Alma is more or less an outsider in a land where she would expect to be welcome, yet there is a certain resentment here, not only in the people but in the very soil itself, which appears to reject her like a badly transplanted limb. Everything that can go wrong for her does go wrong - well, she doesn't die, but she could very well have had she been picked up by the wrong type of person on her travels.

Her cousin and his friend Denis (Lazar Dragojevic) combine a mixture of neglecting the girl and grudgingly looking after her, to the extent of chasing her about the countryside when her single-minded determination to see her ailing father leads her on all sorts of unpleasant adventures. She has a quality verging on the bovine at times, yet every so often will spring to animated life, be that in laughter or tears, to remind us she is just a kid at heart and this whole excursion was a very bad idea. She frequently becomes lost, and for every Good Samaritan there's a dodgy character who is either damaging through their indifference to her plight, or actively nasty which leaves her in increasingly worse off situations than when she started. It's not long before you're worried about her.

Take Me Somewhere Nice (it's debatable whether this title request ever comes true) was compared to Jim Jarmusch, most prominently his deadpan comedy Stranger in Paradise, but this was far too eventful for one of his early movies, though you could kind of see where those comparisons were coming from. Also, Jarmusch's films were a lot funnier, since you expected throughout this for Alma to end the story lying dead in a ditch by the side of the road; yes, this was a road movie, a traditionally American form, but used by Europeans from the nineteen-seventies as a cheap way of making a story with a succession of changing scenery. This was the case here, but that scenery had a narrative point, as if the director was chewing over her grimmest feelings about Bosnia to work out whether there was anything she liked about it at all. There were comedic moments, but they weren't too funny, though it ended on a bittersweet note of hope. Music by Ella van der Woude.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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