Saturday, 23 January 2010


Hamza is an alcoholic poet who stubbornly remains in Sarajevo as his family flees the country during the Yugoslav war. Surveying the debris in his own house, he comes across two young brothers, Adis and deaf-mute Kerim, who have been left orphaned. Hamza is initially unsympathetic towards the boys, but as he comes to understand what it means to be without a family, he promises to help them find their aunt Aicha, their only living relative. The search becomes increasingly emotional for Hamza, and he begins to hallucinate about his absent family. The group later encounter an Alsatian which has cruelly been shot in the leg, a shocking reminder that they are always at risk of dying.

Director Ademir Kenović is unrelentingly blunt in his portrayal of the war, and even in the first five minutes, we see the orphans escaping machine gun fire. However, Kenović maintains that the war is merely a backdrop for the real drama, that of storgic relationships born out of necessity. The camaraderie between Hamza and the boys is believable, to the point that you forget they were originally strangers. Exceptional use is made of the wartime setting – in fact, it’s near impossible to think of another film which dares to create theatre in such a freshly damaged area. Frequently, a scene will sink into comfortable playfulness, only to be interrupted by an ear-shattering explosion, and the effect is terrifying. Forget the meretricious slushiness of Life Is Beautiful, this is the war film to watch.

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