A Stranger

The death of an old friend plunges Slavko into a dilemma. He is unsure whether he, a Croat, should attend the funeral in the Muslim part of Mostar. On the one hand, he feels like it’s his duty; on the other, he fears a hostile reaction from his own community. His wife is angry and his son is equally sick of his well-worn monologues.
At odds with themselves and plagued by divisions: the man and his city have something in common. This psychological study is based on the fact that nearly two decades after the war, Mostar is still divided. An invisible border of distrust and suspicion governs people’s daily lives. Slavko doesn’t want to do the wrong thing, but has lost any sense of what he really wants. His actions verge on the grotesque and paranoid. The handheld camerawork is fluid and in constant motion for much of the film, calling all the more attention to the sense of agitation and tension. Brief emotional outbursts and dramatic exit scenarios seem like a cry into the void. The most impressive scenes are pointedly long, and often involve mute idling in waiting rooms or protracted, redundant debates over trivialities. Neither leads to any sort of change. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]