Take Me Somewhere Nice (4 stars)

Take Me Somewhere Nice

Disaster is around every corner in this impressive Bosnia-set dramedy about a listless teen

A teenage girl listlessly struts her stuff and gets into all sorts of scrapes in this offbeat road-tripper from Bosnian director Ena Sendijarević. It's a playful, promising debut with something of the Greek 'weird wave' about it, as Sendijarević approaches events in interesting, unpredictable fashion.

We meet the mildly bratty, thoroughly nonplussed Alma (Sara Luna Zorić) in a changing room, where she appears to be exploiting her mother's generosity. Soon she's off on an unaccompanied adventure, visiting her ailing, long-estranged father – who's bluntly described as a 'bastard' by mum. Travelling alone from Holland to Bosnia, it's been arranged for Alma to stay with her good-for-nothing cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorać), who she also hasn't laid eyes on in years. Getting locked out of his flat leads Alma to meet, and hook up with, his more attentive friend Denis (Lazar Dragojević). Several disastrous sidetracks later, this feckless triumvirate make their way to the hospital in which Alma's father is staying.

Although she can be a bit of a blank – her deadpan manner meaning she wouldn't be out of place in a Jim Jarmusch film, and neither would her cohorts – Alma is also heroically, sometimes hilariously unflappable. We're a captive audience to her risk-taking and unbelievable misfortune, as she hitches a ride from an aging prostitute / terrible club singer, accepts money from a sleazy politician – an offer that clearly comes with strings attached – and worse. For all its surreal and increasingly outlandish scenarios, Sendijarević has a serious agenda too, drawing attention to the unnerving mix of sexual power and vulnerability possessed by teenage girls, and adding resentment and jealousy about Alma's life elsewhere to the mix.

This newbie director is unafraid, eager even to tackle discomforting terrain, often with a blackly comic eye; there's ultimate empathy, but it's hardly laid on thick. The central trio make for an endearingly unglamorous group, the tension between them fuelling an extremely bumpy journey, where everything that can go wrong most assuredly does.

Available to watch on MUBI from Thu 21 May.

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