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IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from 759 votes
Release: 15 August 2007 (France) /


Genre: Drama
Director: Ognjen Svilicic,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Ibro takes his son Armin from their small Bosnian village to Croatia to audition for a German film about the Balkan conflict.

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Critic Reviews

Ah, the film industry. Since the invention of cinema, the medium has been used to comment on everything, including itself. On several occasions, this self-referential use has been linked to a strongly satirical purpose, so that the darker aspects of movie-making could be made fun of. Singin' in the Rain, Sunset Boulevard and The Player are three great examples of show business being shamelessly deconstructed and exposed in a very unflattering light. That's why Armin, a Croatian art-house film, is so surprising: it deals with that world, but sets out to tell a human story amidst all the pseudo-Hollywood madness.

The main characters of this human story are a man named Ibro and his 11-year old son Armin. They live in a small Bosnian village, while conflict rages all over the country. It's little wonder, then, that Ibro jumps at the opportunity to go abroad when he hears of a German production that is being filmed in Zagabria, the capital of Croatia. Said film revolves around the difficulties Bosnia is facing, and since there is a role that Armin could play, his father decides to take him to the hotel where auditions are held. At first, they almost don't get there because of a transportation problem, but Ibro won't give up: his son attends drama classes in school and plays the accordion, therefore he is better than anyone else seeking the part. That the boy is actually embarrassed by the situation and fails to really discuss his state of mind with Ibro goes without saying.

Failure to communicate: that's what the film's director really cares about. The entire picture focuses on the awkward moments that occur between a father who doesn't fully understand his kid and keeps talking on his behalf, and a son who is too shy to speak his mind and make the first real step into "adulthood". This bizarre relationship gives birth to some truly hilarious scenes, which manage to be funny and oddly touching at the same time, courtesy of a lightness of touch reminiscent of Lost in Translation or Jim Jarmusch's work. The parallel with Sofia Coppola's masterpiece is particularly evident, as Bill Murray's absurd conversation with a Japanese man is explicitly referenced in Ibro's encounter with the movie-within-a-movie's German star. The former cherishes the importance of family, the latter speaks ill of the wife, but as long as they have beer, who needs an interpreter?

The simplicity of those scenes, and of the film in general, is its basic charm but also, in a way, its only flaw. With all the minimalistic attention to the father-son arc, the narrative gets close to superficial when dealing with the film-making satire. Yes, the jokes about producers thinking about little else than cash are fun, as is the comment on foreign writer's inability to nail the dialogue, but with the characters in question reduced to mere caricatures it is hard to find any depth in the director's look at the industry. But maybe that was the point. After all, the real heart of Armin is not the setting but the central duo, and with all the apparent care that has been put in crafting those characterizations, it is easy to forgive a less accurate group of supporting players. And honestly, with all the terrific pictures that have already been made about Hollywood and its international counterparts (see Truffaut's Day for Night, for example), was something more actually needed in that department?

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