Release Date: February 16th, 2007 (Film Forum) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Mirjana Karanovic, Luna Mijovic, Leon Lucev, Kenan Catic, Jasna Beri, Jasna Ornela Berry, Dejan Acimovic, Bogdan Diklic, Emir Hadzihafisbegovic.
Directed by Jasmila Zbanic.
In Serbo-Croatian with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: In Grbavica, a section of Sarajevo, Esma (Karanovic) tries to deal with her rebellious teenage daughter, Sara (Mijovic), while keeping a secret from her regarding Saraís father.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although Mirjana Karanovic and Luna Mijovic give strong performances as Esma and Sara, respectively, the meandering plot takes too long until it finally becomes interesting. Sara has always been under the impression that her father had died in the Bosnian War, according to her mother, Esma. Complications arise when Saraís teacher requires her to produce her fatherís death certificate in order for her to go on a school trip for free. Esma refuses to retrieve the certificate for reasons which become clear later in the second act. Meanwhile, Sara doesnít have much to do other than to complain and yell like any rebellious teenager would do. She seeks comfort from Samir (Catic), a fellow classmate who flirt with her. Esma flirts with a bouncer-turned-gangster from the local club where she works at. Writer/director Jasmila Zbanic spends too much time focusing on Saraís rebellious attitude and not enough on the relationship between her and her mother. It would have been much more interesting if Esma had disclosed her secret earlier in the second act to allow more time for Sara to react to it and for their relationship to evolve from that. The secret is, indeed, surprising, but everything leading up to it lacks dramatic pull. Also, in a particularly horrifying scene, Sara pulls out a gun which seems a bit exaggerated and, most of all, out-of-character.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The scene when Esma reveals her secret to Sara is quite moving, especially as Saraís anger turns into tears. Initially, it seems unethical for Esma to lie to her daughter about her fatherís death, but, given the details of the secret, it somewhat makes sense that Esma wants to shield her daughter from the harsh reality which both have to confront at some point in their lives.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Often meandering.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Strong performances and occasionally moving, but often meandering and ultimately underwhelming.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "G" Menu