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This Oscar-nominated film proves that even movies about important subjects need a distinct point of view to make for compelling viewing.

Chronicling one of the darkest pages in recent European history - the fall of the Srebrenica enclave and the subsequent genocide by Serbian troops - Quo Vadis, Aida? does an excellent job highlighting the tragic and naïve inaction of Dutch NATO troops who were supposed to safeguard the local population from harm by notorious Serbian general Mladic.

Their bureaucratic ineptitude makes for uneasy but compelling viewing, as captured in nearly documentary style by director Jasmila Žbanic. Less successful is the main storyline about the titular interpreter trying to save her family amid the chaos in and around the NATO compound.

The picture relies too much on predictable dramatic tropes to sell the emotion, with lead actress Jasna Duricic running around with a panicked face so much the gimmick quickly loses its efficiency.

The inescapable fate of the men of Srebrenica still feels like a punch in the gut when it happens though, even if you can never escape the feeling that a different storytelling focus would have elevated Quo Vadis, Aida? well above just a well-made, fine picture.

release: 2020

director: Jasmila Zbanic

starring: Jasna Djuricic, Izudin Bajrovic, Boris Ler, Johan Heldenberg


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