Quo Vadis, Aida (2020) Review
Some films have to be seen to be believed. Quo Vadis, Aida? is one of those movies.
It’s a beautiful mix of documentary realism and pure poetic cinema, with some harrowing images of the Bosnian genocide that stick in the mind and a revelatory, Oscar-worthy performance from Jasna Duricic that speaks from the heart.
The year is 1995 and the date is July 11. UN translator Aida (Duricic) is trying to protect her family as the Army of Republika Srpska takes over the city of Srebrenica prior to the Srebrenica massacre. Her family is one of the thousands searching for shelter at the UN camp and, as an insider to negotiations, Aida has vital information needing to be interpreted.
The first thing to say about this movie is that it boasts immaculate docudrama authenticity. There are shaky camera angles and close-ups here reminiscent of the best work of Paul Greengrass which stunningly and powerfully film the extremities of this very inhumane human crisis - shots of families begging at gates, of villages under fire from tanks and even scenes of cows having to be herded into the camps. It’s all very moving stuff.
This very much deserves its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
The dialogue is a mixture of English and Bosnian. The switch between the two can sometimes be a little jarring, but it is essential as Aida is a translator and straddles herself between the two worlds. This film goes to show how learning even a bit of English can help to get you and your family far away from conflict.
Holding the drama together is an exquisite performance from Bosnian actress Duricic. She’s a marvel of a character - bold and adventurous, stoic and professional, but with a human heart and devotion to her fragile family. I was especially moved by a scene of her in the closing shots - a close-up of her eyes which contain fear, resentment and pity all within a split second.
This is an impeccable, muscular drama with powerful images and actions that speak louder than words. The performances are excellent and this very much deserves its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Great stuff.