Here and There (Serbia/USA/Germany; 85 min.)

directed by:Darko Lungulov
starring:David Thornton; Mirjana Karanovic; Branislav Trifunovic; Jelena Mrdja; Antone Pagan; Cyndi Lauper; Goran Radakovic
Here and There

Bruce says: "HERE AND THERE is a tale of two cities, New York and Belgrade.  It is not the best of times in either city.  New York is very un-Manhattan is this film.  Belgrade, we are told, in part of a country in transition. From what is on screen that is nothing new.  Late 19th century buildings are interspersed with buildings cheaply constructed in the past fifty years; occasionally a bombed-out building stands as a reminder of the devastation in the 90’s.  Robert (David Thornton) is a down-and-out saxophone player who is being evicted from his meager quarters as the film opens.  To help him move he hires a van and driver whose phone number he has found.  Branko (Branislav Trifunovic) sizes up Robert in an instant.  He proposes Robert go to Belgrade and marry his cousin so she can gain entry to the United States.  He offers Robert a modest price but one that an unemployed, homeless person might easily find attractive.  Robert’s former girlfriend Rose (Cyndi Lauper) agrees to take him in but his welcome is worn out in a flash.   That Belgrade offer is looking pretty good.

"Branko has everything worked out.  Robert will stay with Branko’s mother Olga (Mirjana Karanovic); Robert will marry Ivana (Jelena Mrdja) within a couple of weeks; Ivana and Robert will go to the American embassy to get her a travel visa; and the newlyweds will return to New York immediately thereafter.  Robert gets to Belgrade on schedule but the plan goes awry when Branko's van gets stolen before he has enough money to wire Robert.  Robert is insistent.  No money, no wedding.  Olga, a divorcee, is as lonely as Robert and the two soon strike up a friendship.  Next they become lovers.  Robert has promised Branko he will not tell Olga why he is really in Belgrade.  That promise seems certain to be broken.  

"Meanwhile Branko becomes the victim of a scam to get a new van.  Hispanic mechanic Jose (Antone Pagan) unfortunately brings a false note to the film as his meanness and deceitful behavior is played as comedy.  Jose milks Branko for thousands of dollars, money that should have gone to Robert.  The tagline of the film mentions that Robert goes to 'chaotic Serbia where instead of money he finds his soul.'  That sums up the film nicely but Darko Lungulov does not have the writing skills to carry it off properly.  It’s a near miss but that still means no cigar.

"How does Cyndi Lauper find her way into such a film you might be asking?  Easy answer.  For the last eighteen years she has been married to David Thornton, an actor who works frequently but never gets starring roles.  His performance is decent but the lines between the unevenness of his character and his performance are slightly blurred.  Mirjana Karanvic (FRÄULEIN, GRBAVICA) seems poised to become an international star similar to Hiam Abbass.  Her performances are consistently excellent.  I do wish she had more meat to her role in HERE AND THERE.

"(HERE AND THERE screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival)"