Adolescence is historically categorised as a time of questioning everything; who we are, where we come from, where we are meant to go. Messy nationality identity and a broken family can fragment teenagers and their sense of belonging even further. Writer/director Ena Sendijarevic's debut feature ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ tackles exactly this topic.
Alma (Sara Luna Zoric, in her first feature film role) is of Bosnian lineage but has been raised in the Netherlands by her mother, like Sendijarevic herself (Sendijarevic has stated the film is not autobiographical). Spending her days by the pool or exploring the world through her phone, Alma decides to visit her father after learning he has been hospitalised. Cue various setbacks such as lost luggage and a rocky relationship with her douchebag cousin.
The story is shot in a way that is every minimalist Tumblr blogger's dream. Shots are drained of saturation to the point where every colour feels pastel, and every white is blinding. Scenes pass by with as little dialogue as possible, letting the empty space do most of the talking. The film is also presented in a cropped, boxy aspect ratio. From an aesthetic standpoint, the film is a sight to behold.
It’s surprising then that the film made me feel next to nothing. While I can appreciate the artistry behind it and in no way is my ability to enjoy a coming of age hinged upon being able to relate to the plot, the minimalist approach used here just makes the film feel hollow. There’s only so many scenes of Alma washing her clothes with bottled water that can tell us something new about her. Perhaps this is by design; a teenager stuck between childhood and adulthood, stuck between her parents, stuck between her home and her heritage was always going to be a blank slate. Sadly, it just doesn’t work as well as it should. Alma is so drained of any personality trait besides being somewhat headstrong that there’s no way this protagonist will be remembered in the same way other coming of age characters, such as Christine from ‘Lady Bird’ or Nadine from ‘The Edge of Seventeen’, will be.
‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ is not the first coming of age film and certainly won’t be the last
‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ is not the first coming of age film and certainly won’t be the last, but by looking at a lesser-explored side of the genre with its unique aesthetic, it is able to carve its own place within the genre.