Alma (Sara Luna Zoric) is an adolescent Dutch citizen returning to her home country. That country is Bosnia, where she’s visiting the father who left her when she was young. A film with that kind of elevator pitch makes it seem like she has a deep urgency to her. But many of the scenes in the film about her, Ena Sendijarevic’s debut Take Me Somewhere Nice, just has her hanging around. This can make Alma come off as lazy, but there’s something both in Sendijarevic’s storytelling and Zoric’s performance that makes Alma’s urgency manifest realistically. Besides, it’s not like her cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) is helping her during her visit.
Some viewers may look deeper into Take Me Somewhere and see Alma’s lack of a father figure manifesting through her short but strong enough attachments to the other characters. Or how easily trusts these other characters. But this film, technically a drama, is not that deep, has a dry sense of humour, and has a Peanuts-y logic. The film mostly revolves around the cousins and Emir’s ‘intern’ Denis (Lazar Dragojevic). And she trusts the occasional adult character because they’re either benevolent or useful to her. Alma makes some forays into the adult world, but eventually, the two young men catch up to her, reestablishing the temporary world they build.
Sendijarević helps create that world. And her camera for the most part directly captures Alma as well as Bosnia, which she depicts as both clean and textured. That cleanliness has a minimalistic feel to it. This adds to that it the occasional stiltedness in which the characters behave around this already alien like space. There are moments when it feels like she’s trying a bit hard to subvert the male gaze while capturing Alma. This is especially true in some compromising scenes. In fairness, a leery, male director may make a worse version of this film. And there is that pressure that critics bestow on all female directors to reinvent sliced bread.
Most of the time, the scenes take place during daylight, which Sendijarević does wonders with. But there’s also the occasional night time scene when the lighting is lacking. Again, in fairness, there is a triggering event that happen during one of those nights. And the choice here is understandable. But for the most part, Take Me addresses its issues in a frank manner. This is fitting since its protagonist is a brave young woman who navigates this short time with two complex young men. There’s a lot of things separating her from those young men. But the film is very smart even when it shows its characters do unsmart things.
Take Me Somewhere Nice comes soon on OVID.