TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Ena Sendijarevic
Writer: Ena Sendijarevic
Cast: Sara Luna Zoric, Lazar Dragojevic, Ernad Prnjavorac, Sanja Buric
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 6/2/21
Opens: June 11, 2021
Maybe it’s a stretch to say this, but the road trip taken by Alma (Sara Luna Zoric) from her home in the Netherlands to a relative in Bosnia could be likened metaphorically to that of many people here in the United States who are first generation immigrants. On the one hand, they love our democracy, or what remains of it after four recent disastrous years, but on the other they cannot throw off the culture to which they were born.
Ena Sandijarevic’s impressive freshman debut as director and writer is a bold one, helming a movie with stylistic devices—intense close-ups and upside-down shots especially—using her principal character to examine a conflict felt by many here in the U.S. and elsewhere.
As a human being, Alma struggles with a conflict as someone in her late teens and the woman she hopes to be. As a traveler, she is torn between East and West; between her love for the freedom in Holland and for the more rugged and freewheeling Bosnia; between northern Europe and the continent’s south. In the concluding frames we see her as a person who has taken a significant step toward adulthood, for being her own person; yet Sendijarevic does not provide an easy template for her future.
To put things in road-trip perspective, there is a difference between a tourist and a traveler; to someone going to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and taste cooking unknown in much of our home country; or an adventurer who does not plan day by day or would not dream of booking a guided tour; or to take a guided tour on the route traveled by Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in 1914 or spend time with your Bosnian cousin going wherever.
As Alma Sara Luna Zoric is attractive but not exceptionally pretty. Leaving her mother (Sanja Buric)—who left Bosnia during its recent war–back home in the Netherlands, she flies to the airport in Sarajevo to see her ill father in a rural hospital, but loses her luggage when the bus leaves her at a rest stop. She eventually makes it to a relative’s temporarily vacant walkup apartment. Sporting her newly dyed blond hair, she convinces her cousin Emir (Lazar Dragojevic) to drive her to the hospital and then, accompanied by Emir’s friend Denis (Ernad Prnjavorac), they take off, running predictably into unforeseen events.
As captured in cinematographer Erno Weemhoff’s lenses, the three project different degrees of deadpan blandness, like a group of high school kids sweltering in summer school while their friends are at the beach. Alma, who professes to dislike the Netherlands because she finds the Dutch people cold, is adrift as well in Bosnia, the land of her cultural roots. As for her two road buddies, cousin Emir considers himself a patriot (he loves his country and would never consider giving up to settle elsewhere) rather than a nationalist (a hater), while Denis considers exploiting Alma as a ticket toward life and a passport in the Netherlands. Some sexual escapades between Alma and Denis follow, the last one being a mixed blessing for Denis since he is half-dead from a beating by two bruisers.
Alma may be on her way to returning to her roots, as the film concludes with an open-ended resolution. The title “Take Me Somewhere Nice” comes from rockers known as Mogwai (“A false memory would be everything/A denial my eliminent.”) Alma, in her film debut just as is the writer-director, turns in a credible performance, only occasionally changing her Jim Jarmusch-like expression and laughing with excitement in a speeding car.
In Bosnian and Dutch with English subtitles.
93 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B