MOVIE REVIEW: “Take Me Somewhere Nice” stars Sara Luna Zoric (Yulia & Juliet [Short]), Lazar Dragojevic (The Son, Sympathy for the Devil), and Ernad Prnjavorac (Big Leap [Short]). It is written and directed by Ena Sendijarevic (Import [Short], Fernweh [Short]). Alma (Zoric) travels from her home to Bosnia to visit her ailing father. However, when she arrives, she is met with many hardships.
Dipping into yet another foreign film, “Take Me Somewhere Nice” dazzles with beautiful cinematography, reserved performances, and an interesting story that feels akin to the dry antics something like “Napoleon Dynamite” can only offer. It’s one of the more intriguing features I have seen on the Mubi app, as it pulled me in right away with its symmetrical shots, pastel colors, and unique world that I (someone who clearly needs to see more foreign cinema) am unaware of. However, it is with a heavy heart that I set this record straight: “Take Me Somewhere Nice” does a great job selling itself, but the story behind the lines leaves more to be desired. As I stated before, so as to not mislead you, it is an interesting tale. One we’ve seen packaged in other places before. It’s a fish-out-of-water scenario where a woman who is in the middle of childhood and adulthood comes to grips on where she is at in the world, through her quest to see her dad one last time. Reading that, it seems like a bonafide coming-of-age story to bring on the water works, but the film primarily deals in symbolism, where situations seem to just happen and lessons are subtle. I’m not shy when it comes to “experience” movies. The ones that take us on journeys with the characters that, while having a rather thin goal, leads to memorable moments and explorations. Pulling from an example I already used, “Napoleon Dynamite” does this masterfully by painting the life of this awkward teen whose world is derailed when his uncle comes down to babysit. It sounds clear, but there is so much more that happens, to where the whole uncle aspect is merely that: an aspect. A piece to a bigger puzzle. And that’s what Sendijarevic looks to do with her film. It’s not just about this girl seeing her dad one last time. It’s satire on this struggle of finding one’s identity as well as various discussions on the politics of Bosnia. Though dry, there are some moments that are memorable, made almost solely possible by the beautiful shot compositions. Without the cinematography, I might have fallen asleep. Because while I somewhat understand the point the director is trying to make, it was only after seeing this that I did, all of which being made possible by reading the comments (a sad thing to confess). For those who understand the world Bosnia presents, there is supposedly a deeper meaning behind some of the dialogue choices, where quite a bit of critics point out how cliché it can be. Apparently, some of the political nuances are the weakest points to the demographic this serves, because they have seen them a dozen times over in other works of cinema. I haven’t, but I will say that if there are moments involving politics, it is very subtle. To me, the story was seeing what would unfold in this venture to see a dying father, and well… it was something. Really, I chalked up quite a bit of my confusions to the misunderstanding of Bosnian culture at large. Alma came to Bosnia so that her cousin could drive her to her father. That was the deal made. However, her cousin doesn’t take her, and instead leaves her in his apartment just waiting around. A scene later details him saying “I don’t know why she just doesn’t go back home.” Why can’t he take her? I don’t understand. That was the biggest question mark for me. It took until the halfway point for him to actually drive her to the hospital, only because she ran away. At that point, quite a bit of odd things happen, from dance clubs to run over dogs to sex scenes on sex scenes. While not experimental in style, the story seemed to be. As it unfolded, I began to turn off my brain and just let it roll. Mainly because, once the physical objective is achieved (Alma reaching her father), the film continues to play out to an ending that I am unsure what to take away from. Of course, I can take a hint from critics (who all have their ideas as to what the conclusion symbolizes), but for me, I was kind of bummed. On the surface, “Take Me Somewhere Nice” is an exciting adventure for those who may be weary of seeing foreign flicks. But underneath, it just doesn’t live up. As I said, there are moments that are memorable (and certainly a lot of shots to gain inspiration from), but it doesn’t do enough to make this recommendable. FINAL SCORE: 63%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: