Friday, 16 October 2015

My Beautiful Country

Die Brücke am Ibar; drama / war, Germany / Serbia / Croatia, 2012; D: Michaela Kezele, S: Zrinka Cvitešić, Mišel Matičević, Andrija Nikčević, Miloš Mesarović, Ema Šimović

Serbia during the Kosovo war. Danica is a Serb widow who lives with her two children, Vlado and Danilo, after her husband died in the war. Things are dim following Slobodan Milosevic's policy which led to the NATO bombing. When a wounded Albanian, Ramiz, arrives to their house, Danica decides to nurse and hide him from the neighbors. The two develop an attraction. When Danilo, who stopped talking after his father's death, runs away to the Albanian side, Ramiz goes to bring him back home. Danice is reunited with her child, but Ramiz, who wore a Serbian uniform, is killed by Albanian soldiers who thought he was a Serb soldier.

The feature length debut film of German director Michaela Kezele is an interesting, but thinly developed story which would have been far better suited as a short. It tackles the often used theme of a love relationship developing between two different nationalities during the Yugoslav Wars (used in films like "Life is a Miracle", "In the Land of Blood and Honey", "Zvizdan" and others) - here between a Serb woman and an Albanian man - which leads to a few emotional, noble and honest moments, yet not as powerful or as inspired enough to get to a stronger point, whereas a huge problem is the overstretched storyline which contains too much empty walk, resulting ultimately in a few boring scenes. The movie's biggest asset is another excellent performance by the main actress, Zrinka Cvitesic, who is brilliant as the widow Danica - from the bizarre opening where she is slowly dancing and lifting her skirt up in front of her late husband's grave up to the humorous exchange with Ramiz: "From what did your husband die from?" - "From war" - but even her contribution shows signs of cracks faced with a pale development of the conventional narrative, since she is too expressionistic and too intense for such a simplistic dramaturgy. Several omissions bother (for instance, it is unrealistic that Danica would simply stand there, passively, while the children are watching a corpse getting taken away to a car, without asking them to turn away for instance) while several subplots lead nowhere (Vlado trying to buy a bicycle), which gives an overall good, yet indecisive and unsure movie at times.

Grade;++

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