Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Welcome To Sarajevo

In 1993, British broadcast reporter Michael Nicholson became emotionally involved in the story of a Sarajevo orphanage while reporting for ITN; he smuggled Natasha, a Muslim girl, out from under the Serbian non-evacuation policy. Welcome To Sarajevo is basically the story of Nicholson's experiences. Stephen Dillane is a British journalist and close allegory to Nicholson, who slowly moves from secondhand witness to intimate participant in the strange machinations of besieged Sarajevo society. It's the latest installment in the great tradition of foreign-correspondent films like The Killing Fields and Salvador, and it's not without flaws. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei are here, playing such minor two-dimensional characters—Harrelson seems to have taken the inspiration for his world-weary buffoon from Alan Alda's work as Hawkeye Pierce—that their presence is an obvious ploy to bring in American audiences. The music, while used in some scenes to demonstrate that Sarajevo was a youthful and vibrant place even in wartime, is jarring and silly in others, as when Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is played over a montage of bickering politicians. And the perspective shifts a bit too abruptly from "based on actual events" to pure parable to be a truly consistent account. But Dillane is world-weary enough to win everyone over, Goran Visnjic is wonderful as the Sarajevan driver, and Emira Nusevic is simply, heartbreakingly sweet as Nicholson's adopted daughter. Perhaps the worst thing you can say about Welcome To Sarajevo is that it's not a great film, but it's very good, and it should be seen.

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