The movie is Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams, a 2006 present-day drama of the Balkans that shows films can be searing and bleak at the same time. A winner of the prestigious Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, the film’s about the aftermath of war and war crimes on a single mother in the Grbavica neighborhood of Sarajevo. The mother is desperate to obtain 200 euros so she can pay for a school trip and spare her adolescent daughter (SPOILER ALERT!!) from finding out she is the result of systematized rape as an act of war.
It’s long after the conflict, but every man in the film looks like a criminal. These men can surprisingly gentle and reasonable with our heroine, except when they dismiss her as unimportant or lash out in sudden violence upon each other.
The cars are crap, the buildings need paint and nobody seems to have a job that doesn’t involve victimizing somebody. And they all smoke like fiends.
They smoke in restaurants, in cars, in offices, even with children present. The adult babysitter comes over and she smokes in front of the child. By the end of the film, the child has taken a few puffs herself.
So here’s the litmus test:
Show a non-smoking friend Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams. If your friend bemoans the dreary horror of this woman’s existence and thanks the lord or lady in charge they have been spared such, then this is a person whose sense of proportion is in proportion.
If the friend says, “Wasn’t it terrible when people used to smoke like that here?” and then tells a lurid story about enduring a heavy smoker in a closed automobile,” their proportionality — not so much.