Sarajevo Film Review: ‘The Son’

Variety | 8/16/2019 | Guy Lodge
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It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving Bosnian teenage tearaway Arman, the nominal hero of Ines Tanović’s strident, unvarnished family drama “The Son”: Raised in relative peace and privilege, he’s doing his level best to become his own center of conflict. Thoughtfully addressing generational difference and burdensome post-war expectations, this well-acted, straightforward Sarajevo fest opener will hit hardest emotionally with domestic audiences, but should match or exceed the extensive festival footprint of Tanović’s 2015 debut “Our Everyday Life.”

That film, a similarly snappish and locally flavored household study, was Bosnia’s selection for the international feature Oscar, and it would not be a surprise to see Tanović (cousin of the country’s most celebrated auteur, Danis) repeat the feat here. Indeed, “The Son” is an indirect sequel of sorts to the 2015 film, which centered on a different branch of the same extended, well-to-do Sarajevo family under scrutiny here. Clearly, there’s enough baggage in this fictitious clan to fuel several features.

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An initially cryptic opening gradually clears into a fractured family portrait, with 18-year-old Arman (Dino Bajrović, in his first feature) standing slightly apart from the outset. He’s introduced in the back of a taxi, being literally driven away from his strenuously well-mannered, middle-class home, as he heads to the airport on an independent quest: It emerges that Arman is adopted, and flying to meet his birth mother for the first time. If it feels a bit like the film is beginning with an ending, it proves a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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