“Take Me Somewhere Nice” is a deadpan Bosnian/Dutch road dramedy adrift in the aimlessness of youth. So it’s not about the haphazard, clumsy and unhurried physical “journey” that our heroine undertakes. It’s more about a restless age and a rootless trio, making it up as they go along, acting on amoral impulse and haplessly tripping over each other every step of the way.
So, kind of random and unmoored? Yes it is.
Alma (Sara Luna Zoric) sets off from the Netherlands, where she and her mother (Sanja Buric) are somehow getting by, struggling to master Dutch, to visit her estranged father. He got “homesick” years ago and returned to their native Bosnia.
“The bastard!” is how Mom refers to him, but he’s sick. Alma will go see him in remote Podvelezje, maybe get a sense of where she’s from and who she is as she does.
But when she arrives, the cousin who picks her up, Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) is an unhelpful, dismissive jerk. She can’t get her new suitcase open. And if she dares to go out and wander this city she doesn’t remember, with its new mall, cafes and juice bars, he leaves her locked out of his water-bottle stuffed (no food) flat.
But Emir has an “intern.” That’s the flirtatious, forward and friendly Denis (Lazar Dragojevic). We get the impression that he hits on anything that moves, but he’s probably working the angles with the girl from Western Europe. How is Holland, he wants to know?
“I hate the Netherlands (in Bosnian, with English subtitles),” she mutters. ” Cold weather, cold people.“
Still, Denis tries to talk Emir into looking after his “family” and delivering her to her father. After he and Alma have sex before he’s even learned her name, of course.
Alma’s lackadaisical quest begins with dyeing her hair, and puts her on a bus, which she then misses, thus losing her luggage. She depends on the kindness of strangers in a sullen country where “customer service” must translate as one’s favorite swear word. Alma is scatterbrained, naive and sexualized every step along the way, much of it in the same blue minidress she unpacked upon arrival. Because she has no luggage, and even if she did, she couldn’t get the suitcase open.
The trio’s misadventures flirt with “picaresque” as they blunder their way cross country toward a remote hospital Alma is in no hurry to get to. They might make a classic “love triangle” if anything that they do — teens in heat, basically — could be called “love.”
Zoric’s Alma has an Aubrey Plaza blank stare about her, not smart enough to hold this place and these people in contempt, not really taking it all in, either. Alma is the kind of dunce who dumps fish food into a tropical tank where everything in it is dead and floating on the surface.
Writer-director Ena Sendijarevic goes for a “float through this” vibe that feels more like simple drifting in a general direction. There’s violence and other “this almost never happens to real people” melodrama. And once in a great while, something might strike you as funny.
But seeing Bosnia in all its rural, arid desolation tips us to why people leave, why young people despair of any sort of stimulus and why reckless risks — with cars, drugs, sex — maintain their international appeal among the youth of east and west, north and south.
“Take Me Someplace Nice” kind of washes over you the way the events depicted here wash over Alma. Nothing much happens, but when it does, you’re grateful for it, and content just to be “someplace” other than Bosnia as you observe it.
MPA Rating: violence, sex, drugs
Cast: Sara Luna Zoric, Lazar Dragojevic, Ernad Prnjavorac
Credits: Scripted and directed by Ena Sendijarevic. A Dekanalog release.
Running time: 1:31