Saturday, March 13, 2010

On the Path

Na putu; Drama, BiH/ Austria/ Germany/ Croatia, 2010; D: Jasmila Žbanić, S: Zrinka Cvitešić, Leon Lučev, Marija Kohn, Mirjana Karanović, Ermin Bravo, Nina Violić

Sarajevo. Luna and Amar are a rather happy couple working in the capital's airport: she is a flight attended, he works in the air traffic control. One day, he gets caught drinking and gets suspended from his job for 6 months. In a minor car crash, he meets his old pal Bahrija, who in the meantime became a Wahhabi. They start hanging out a lot until Amar gets a job as a teacher in their community. With time, he turns more and more into a religious fanatic, which annoys Luna and her grandmother. When she was about to have artificial insemination, Luna changes her mind. It turns out she really is pregnant, but she leaves him. Following the success of her critically acclaimed film "Grbavica", director Jasmila Žbanić again decided to bravely tackle a controversial Bosnian topic, this time the Wahhabi in "On the Path". She again managed to stand out positively from the majority of these kind of films from the Balkans: the story is neither preachy nor does it put the blame on anyone, instead it tries to make a balanced approach and leave the viewers with their own conclusions, which is visible in the open end. Curiously, the two Croatian actors are really convincing in their leading roles, with Zrinka Cvitešić again taking on the spotlight thanks to her effortless charm and charisma as the heroine Luna.

Even though the story may be a tad dry and grey, Žbanić shows her sense for stylistic playfulness here and there: during the opening credits on the dark screen, heavy punk music in playing, but it turns off the instant the first scene shows up, where Luna in underwear is filming herself with her mobile phone in front of her mirror. It seems as if her curiosity, which makes her film everything, has certain traits of filmmaker Žbanić. And those scenes are among the best, especially the sweet one where she, as a traveling flight attended, is lying alone in a hotel room and puts her mobile phone on the pillow next to hers, watching the video footage of her lover Amar snoring. The Wahhabi tangle avoids cliches, some will find its sustained tone welcomed while others will find it underdeveloped, whereas the author once more inserts some details from the War in Bosnia (like grandmother's thoughts about her blooming roses in her home in Bijeljina from which she was expelled), even though they may be rather 'off' for this story. Many knots were tied up neatly, creating a demanding, slightly too serious, but intelligent and unassuming little film.


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