In 1985, four middle-aged Yugoslav emigres return to Belgrade for the funeral of Mariana, their beautiful compatriot. They called her Esther, for Esther Williams, she was the coxswain for ... See full summary »
In 1985, four middle-aged Yugoslav emigres return to Belgrade for the funeral of Mariana, their beautiful compatriot. They called her Esther, for Esther Williams, she was the coxswain for their four-man rowing team, and they each loved her. They'd last seen her in 1953, when they rowed her across the Adriatic, pregnant, to join her exiled father in Italy. In flashbacks we learn the story of their youthful baptism into sex, smoking, rock and roll (Hey Ba-ba-re-bop), Hollywood and Swedish films, blue jeans on the black market, and their rivalry with Ristic, the Communist Party youth leader for whom they had instant antipathy. Written by
I was intrigued by the title, so during a small bout of insomnia (fueled by my curiosity...), I stayed up and watched it. I then checked my TV listings and watched it again! There is one very obvious realization that occurred to me when I saw this film- in spite of politics, traditions, culture, etc., teenagers everywhere are virtually the same. The characters of the kids from Belgrade could have been transported to, let's say, somewhere in the American Midwest during the same time period, and language differences aside, would be impossible to tell apart from any of the local teens of that era. They certainly displayed the same growing pains and preoccupations, politics aside: Music, sex, movie idols, music, drinking, sports, music... As a matter of fact, much the same things that occupied my time growing up in 1970's Southern California.
This was a bittersweet story, but the joy of youth made it very enjoyable. The characters, especially the young actors, were completely believable also. I won't say this was the Yugoslav "American Graffiti", but I will say that it fits in nicely with other 50's-themed movies.
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