In modern day connections, Love & Lust are pretty synonymous. It’s even hard to differentiate that either it’s actually a feeling or just a hormonal attraction. Take Me Somewhere Nice, meets with the same irony and tries to explore it in a quirky stylish way, narrated through a travel story on the road. It centers around a Dutch-raised Bosnian teen returning to the motherland to visit her hospitalized father while staying with her cousin and his charming intern.
Take Me Somewhere Nice marks the debut feature of Ena Sendijarević who won Rotterdam’s Special Jury Prize for exceptional artistic achievement. The film is aesthetically brilliant thanks to Academy-ratio compositions and cinematographer Emo Weemhoff’s playful way of showing the teen’s journey. The film is filled with Bosnian absurdism which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you really dig deep into it, some of them are really thought provoking.
The film opens with Alma (Sara Luna Zorić) and her mother (Sanja Burić) in their hometown somewhere in the Netherlands. Alma is on the verge of becoming a full grown woman, already sexually knowing and adept at working an ironical glare, yet she’s not quite an adult and enjoys a close relationship with her divorced mother. When the news of Alma’s father being in a hospital in Bosnia arrives, the young woman feels it necessary to at least go and check as she has never met her dad and it might be the last chance to see him. Alma’s mother, let’s her go, on the condition that her cousin will guide her in her journey through the unknown country.
Alma ends up in the flat where her nasty cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) is a dealer in the black market and has no interest in helping her get to her destination. She even fails to open her suitcase as a result of which she is wearing the same clothes each day and washing them out at night. The one thing she knows how to use is her attractiveness, giving her a certain amount of agency and leading to a quick screw with Emir’s friend/intern Denis (Lazar Dragojević).
When both Emir and Denis show lack of interest to take Alma to her father, she finally takes a bus but inevitably misses the bus in the middle of the journey. Alma meets a lot of interesting characters while being on the journey, when eventually Denis and Emir find her and take her to the hospital, where she finds out the faith of her father.
Dramatic Travelogue Swelled Up by Complicated Characters
Take Me Somewhere Nice unrolls like a dramatic travelogue with it’s own twists and turns, faced by the protagonist Alma. Though she has a goal — to see her father — she’s also aimless, embodying a teenager’s inner world of indecision and confusion. These lead to rise in conflicts which are not totally under her control, but how she tackles them, is what the film scouts in. The growth in her character, while she traverses the complicated questions of love, life and relationships, is unraveling but intriguing.
For Alma, a growing up teen, love is about having a prince charming who would care for her and protect her . However, this unrealistic belief is soon shattered as she embarks on a journey, and meets Denis. She even tells Denis in one of the scenes, that she needs a guy with muscles, who can protect her, to which Denis replies that no modern woman needs someone to protect her, she can protect herself. Alma, like these, has too many preconceived ideas about life, and other important things, but this journey shows her the reality of everything and with her, we as audience evolve too.
Sendijarević, neither in the dialogues nor in the scenes play out, misses a chance to underline how different reality is from story books, where love is a happy feeling. In reality, it’s not sad, but complicated, maybe, hard to understand. Or in modern day relationships, love is just a medium to get something out of it, lust, money or other favors. Thus, today, Love has become synonymous to not giving but having something in return.
Take Me Somewhere Nice, is an indie road drama that has its own twists and turns. The visuals are appealing and distinctive with few vibrantly coloured images which are really impactful. However, the most notable achievement of the director is the way she captured Alma’s stage of being stuck in between teenage negligence and adulthood responsibilities, spilling her childish neediness occasionally while wearing a sophisticated and cool persona, all together mixed with a feeling of detachment and unbelongingness. It is a complicated film, just like the last sentence, and people who are willing to descend to such realism and skepticism, will really enjoy the film.
Take Me Somewhere Nice is a Dutch drama film directed by Ena Sendijarević released in 2019. It is streaming on MUBI.
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