Dir/scr: Srdjan Koljevic. Serbia-Germany. 2010. 101mins
Srdjan Koljevic’s engrossing and intriguing drama Woman With A Broken Nose, which screened in the East of the West competition section at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, is an elegant and at times moving story of how one incident can set a series of stories – which sometimes interweave – into motion.
While the film has its dark moments, it is ultimately optimistic and engaging.
It is a film that deserves to find additional festival exposure, with attention deservedly drawn to the three lead performances of Nebojsa Glogovac, Anica Dobra and Branka Katic. It is a tough sell for distributors, but festival exposure could increase interest.
Grumpy Bosnian taxi-driver Gavrilo (Glogovac) picks up a tearful young woman one raining morning. She is clutching a baby and holding a napkin to her bloodied nose. To his shock, as they cross Belgrade’s Branko’s Bridge she leaps out of the car and jumps into the flowing river.
Her jump is also witnessed by depressed schoolteacher Anica (Dobra) and pharmacist Biljana (Branka), who is rowing with the man she is supposed to marry. The incident leaves Gavrilo with a baby to look after, and spurs on the two women to take stock of their lives.
Gavrilo tends the baby while also searching hospitals for the woman (Sargin). He eventually finds her in a coma, but continues to visit her, eventually smuggling her away when she eventually recovers, but is threatened with being sent to the psychiatric wing.
Anica, whose young son died in a car accident some years before, has issues dealing with a grown-up student who has a dark link to her past, while pill-popping pharmacist Biljana still hasn’t got over the death of her lover, and finds inappropriate affection with his brother, now a priest. Branka Katic (who has appeared in US TV series Big Love) is especially effective and moving as a woman haunted by a past love.
The three main characters gently interweave, though writer-director Srdjan Koljevic never tries to put undue weight on one particular strand, allowing each to develop satisfyingly. Nada Sargin – as that woman with the broken nose – is less clearly drawn as a character, and some of her actions are hard to fathom (repeatedly leaving her baby while also seeking affection from Gavrilo), though her willfulness is ultimately convincing.
Koljevic repeatedly uses the bridge – which links the old city with the new Belgrade – as metaphor for each character’s road to recovery. With some it is a subtle and gentle development, while for others it is profound, and while the film has its dark moments, it is ultimately optimistic and engaging.
Production companies: Film House Bas Celik, Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion
International sales: Atkis Film International, www.atkis-film.com
Producers: Jelana Mitrovic, Srdan Golubovic, Alexander Ris
Cinematography: Goran Volarevic
Editor: Marko Glusac
Production designers: Zorana Petrov, Lana Prolic
Music: Mario Schneider
Main cast: Nebojsa Glogovac, Anica Dobra, Nada Sargin, Branka Katic, Vuk Kostic, Jasna Zalica