Bosnia’s foreign-language Oscar entry, Ines Tanovic’s Our Everyday Life, is a compelling story of a middleclass family torn by the country’s political upheaval. One of the competition titles at the ongoing Cairo International Film Festival, Our Everyday Life, is remarkable for its simplicity and ability to veer away from melodrama.
The narrative focusses on the Susic family. The 60-year-old father, Muhamed, is devastated when he faces a boardroom coup that is trying to ease him out of his position as the CEO of a factory he had helped build brick by brick. There is a wonderfully touching scene as he bids his final goodbye with all his personal belongings in a cardboard box. All these years in just a box, he quips, fighting his tears.
His wife is a retired schoolteacher whose never-say-die attitude keeps her moving even during the worst of crisis, and she is sure that better days will arrive.
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The couple’s son, Sasha, is a physically and emotionally wounded man, whose wife is divorcing him. But Sasha cannot forget her, and his unmarried and pregnant sister, lives in Slovenia, the war having forced her to migrate.
The family’s little squabbles are bound to strike a universal chord, and the uptight Muhamed finds it difficult to get along with his son -- who has moved in with them because of economic compulsions.
Notable for the warmth and intimacy the movie’s terrifically neat script captures the sense of Bosnia’s loss in the aftermath of the war, and makes for a poignant study of the plight of an entire generation in its thirties and forties which lost the charm of youth. The young feel trapped -- and we see this most clearly in Sasha.
Finally, when a medical crisis hits the family, the members rally around to unity, and as the film ends we feel that we could have spent a little more time with the Susics.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Cairo International Film Festival.)