There are Easter eggs in Karl Markovics’ new film Nobadi – gates marking neighborhood boundaries, snow, the word ‘camp’. Those hints add an ambiguity to his protagonist, Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner), an old man from Austria. Because of his age and nationality, these clues make audiences wonder who he fought for during the war. And this ambiguity comes into play when his dog dies and has to hire someone to bury him. That person happens to be the titular character (Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh), an Afghan refugee without any proper papers. The little we know about Henrich makes us question the way he treats and yells at poor Nobadi. He’s doing this because he’s a hateful man, but did this hate come from self preservation or indoctrination?
Ultimately, the revelations in Nobadi doesn’t matter because it cares about Heinrich more than it does Nobadi. It eventually reveals certain things about Nobadi’s story back in Afghanistan but those explanations come way too late. This is also a loud, violent movie, those elements destroying any possibility to make its story palatable. In discussing this film with other critics I dubbed it as the Austrian version of Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. Too bad this doesn’t have Green Book‘s universality, focusing instead of the conflict between its characters. And sure, Heinrich turns around and tries to do right by Nobadi, even if it harms the latter. Nobadi shows how good intentions pave the road to hell, but there are much better roads to take.