In the push for greater gender parity across the European film industry, a certain kind of fakery is afoot, as cookie cutter genre flicks or gender swapped indies emerge with a female director or screenwriter attached, but no identifiable female energy or characteristics. Happily, Take Me Somewhere Nice, a spirited sexual awakening dramedy, trills with feminine desires and wiles.
Alma (a delightfully deadpan Sara Luna Zoric, making her feature debut) is a young woman of Bosnian heritage who has been raised in the Netherlands by her mother. She decides to visit her father, who returned to his native country out of homesickness years earlier, after learning he has been hospitalised.
Many droll Jarmuschian misadventures ensue. A suitcase that won’t open leaves the heroine with one dress. Her rude, unhelpful cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) refuses to drive her to the rural hospital where her father is being treated. A bus drives off with Alma’s still unopened suitcase still onboard. Along the way, she encounters no fewer than three shaggy dogs – the spirit animal for this eventful drama – and three potential suitors.
“Everywhere the same rules, the same men,” cautions an older woman; “All men care about is what other men think about them.” Neither Alma nor the film romanticises her boyfriends. That is just as well. Her complicated relationship with the dour and sexually jealous Emir is made trickier by her seduction of Denis (Lazar Dragojevic), his “intern”. (Even though Emir is unemployed.) Denis, who neglects to tell Alma that he already has a girlfriend, is relieved to learn that Alma is single. “I don’t like touching someone else’s”, he explains. “Maybe it’s homophobia.”
The winner of Rotterdam’s Special Jury Prize for exceptional artistic achievement doesn’t judge its confused youthful characters harshly. As with Alma’s sense of identity, their entanglements and plans are messy.
Working with cinematographer Emo Weemhoff, the director’s stunning academy-ratio compositions, her use of odd musical squiggles and downright surreal corners – twinkling stars, an astronaut tapdancing on TV – add to the sense of unchartered territory. Adventure awaits.
Available to stream on Mubi