Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
BHFFNYC ’16: Our Everyday Life
are things you never get accustomed to. Sasha Susic is a Balkan War veteran still
struggling with relatively mild PTSD. He has witnessed death, but he is still
not prepared when potentially fatal illness strikes within his nuclear family.
His father is even less so. However, everyone is used to carrying on in the face
of whatever chance and circumstance throws their way in Ines Tanović’s Our Everyday Life (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York.
Susic got a close look at the dark side of humanity, but a marriage to a
foreign journalist saved him and his mates from the worst of it. He now lives
with his sixty-something parents in Sarajevo, mostly just brooding around the
flat. His father Muhamed makes no secret of his contempt for Sasha’s lack of
ambition or his frustration with the Bohemian lifestyle of his very pregnant
sister, Senada, who is currently living abroad with her Slovenian lover. Their
mother Marija tries to play peacemaker, but a not-so cold war still rages
between father and son. Nevertheless, they will come together when they have
to, because they are not tacky people.
could think of OEL as something very
much like a Bosnian Ozu film, which is very high praise indeed. Some might say
very little happens in it, but frankly we see all the stuff of life therein. It
is also rather fascinating to watch how Tanović’s screenplay addresses the
Balkan War and its ramifications. At most, they are secondary issues, albeit
important ones. Frankly, it is not so very different than the treatment you
might find of 9/11 in major American films that cannot pretend it didn’t
happen, but are circumspect in their references. The War is still a bit more
prominent in Tanović’s mix, but it is put on equal footing with economic challenges
and generational conflicts.
Hadzihafizbegovic and Uliks Fehmiu are terrific as the mildly semi-estranged father
and son. Whether it is a scene of spiteful bickering or tender rapprochement, there
is not a false moment shared between them. Vedrana Seksan is massively
charismatic in her brief but pivotal scenes as Senada, while Jasna Ornela Beri is
all very well and good as Marija, but her sainted mother material feels
Frankly, it was not crazy strategy on the part
of Bosnia and Herzegovina choosing OEL as
the nation’s official foreign language Oscar submission. It is a very fine film
that will impress viewers who take the time to engage with it. However, it is
so understated it was unable to cut through the pomp and noise of awards
season. It is nice to be able to catch up with it now. Highly recommended for
those who appreciate smart, realistic drama, Our Everyday Life screens this Friday (5/27) at the SVA Theatre, as
part of this year’s BHNYC.
Labels: BHFFNYC '16, Bosnian-Herzegovinian Cinema