Winner of this year’s Yugoslav national film prize, and Yugoslavia’s entry for the foreign-lingo Oscar, “Three Summer Days” gently reproaches the intolerance shown by some Serbs toward homeless Serbian postwar immigrants from Croatia and Bosnia. But however daring the picture may look back home in Belgrade, it carries minimal political impact for offshore viewers.
Returning from the war destitute and depressed, Croatian-born Sergije (Slavko Stimac) and his buddy from Bosnia, Nikola (Srdjan Todorovic), scrape together a living renting beach chairs to sunbathers on Belgrade’s Sava Lake. The summer atmosphere is far from idyllic: The economic crisis means people barely have enough to eat, others have gone half-crazy or turned to forgetfulness in a bottle, and crime flourishes in the vulgar personification of “Mistress” (Mirjana Karanovic).
Pretty Sonja (Mirjana Jokovic) from the refugee center falls into her clutches, hooking to keep her family alive. Sergije’s love is powerless to help her or to find his missing family. Their doomed love story marks pic’s emotional high-water mark.
Scripted by veteran Gordan Mihic, the tale bristles with underlying tension between local-born Serbs and the hard-working refugees, resentment that explodes in ethnic hatred at pic’s end. But by concentrating the brunt of guilt on a band of right-wing kids, the message is diluted. A bleak, violent ending leaves no space for hope.
Mirjana Vukomanovic, a top kidpic director and veteran documaker, brings a sensitive touch to most of her characters, but loses all sense of proportion dealing with the wildly purple role played by Karanovic. Young Stimac, however, is arresting in the lead.
Though the movie’s pressbook quotes a tab of $1.7 million, item has an under-budgeted look, which cinematographer Milos Spasojevic works around the best he can.