Curiously intertwined lives around Woman with a Broken Nose
by Vladan Petkovic
The latest co-production between Serbia’s Bas Celik and Germany's Neue Mediopolis – following Srdan Golubovic's The Trap [+see also:
film profile], Damjan Kozole's Slovenian Girl [+see also:
film profile] and Srdjan Karanovic's Besa [+see also:
film profile] – is The Woman with a Broken Nose, the second directorial effort from respected Serbian screenwriter Srdjan Koljevic.
This is the kind of film that sells best in the Balkans: a comedy-drama studded with Serbian stars. The cast includes Nebojsa Glogovac, one of the region's most prominent actors and best known internationally from The Trap, alongside audience darlings Anica Dobra (Universalove, Love and Other Crimes [+see also:
film profile]) and Branka Katic (The Englishman, Breaking and Entering [+see also:
The opening scene immediately introduces us to the three main characters. Gavrilo (Glogovac), a Bosnian refugee who drives a taxi in Belgrade, picks up the titular woman (Nada Sargin), plus a baby. Stuck in traffic on the city’s main bridge, after one of Gavrilo's frequent snappy remarks, the woman runs out of the car and jumps off the bridge, leaving the child behind. High school teacher Anica (Dobra) sees this, stops and goes over to the bewildered Gavrilo. Moments before, a young couple had a fight in their car: Biljana (Katic) angrily left her boyfriend and stopped Anica, asking her for a ride.
Bachelor Gavrilo is now stuck with the child and takes it to his only female friend, Jadranka (Jasna Zalica), a prostitute and fellow refugee. While trying to get rid of the kid without going to the police, because his taxi isn’t licensed, he finds the woman with the broken nose in a hospital, alive but in a coma.
Meanwhile, Anica is having strange interactions with an infatuated student. Her attitude towards him is baffling, for reasons that will be revealed at the very end (although clearly hinted at much earlier in the film). Biljana visits the family of an ex-boyfriend who died ten years ago, when he was 22. His little brother (Vuk Kostic) has become a priest, is married and expecting a child, but confesses his love to Biljana.
The lives of the main characters are intertwined much like in Robert Altman's Short Cuts and P.T. Anderson's Magnolia. Although sometimes awkwardly directed in this respect, the film benefits from its best aspect, witty dialogue, which audiences at the Serbian premiere at the Cinema City Festival in Novi Sad clearly loved. Especially as that dialogue is delivered by popular actors, with standout performances by Glogovac and Zalica.
Another strong point is Goran Volarevic's cinematography – the most beautiful and heartfelt depiction of Belgrade in recent years. Technical credits are top-notch, and the soundtrack is lined with nostalgic tunes from former Yugoslav bands of the 1970s and 80s.
The film won five awards at Cinema City: Best Film, Screenplay and Actor (Glogovac); and the Audience and press awards. It now heads to its international premiere in competition at Karlovy Vary.
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