Stalking the much-treaded ground of the war in Bosnia, which it glibly compares to the horrors of World War II, “Remake” is long on narrative but short on original insight into Balkan history. Debuting helmer Dino Mustafic has a talent, however, for dark storytelling, which occasionally bursts through a lot of stagnant material. Based on the autobiography of scriptwriter-novelist Zlatko Topcic, pic has the credentials to skim the festival circuit, with scattered sales a possibility.
Film’s leaden irony begins with a frame story in which traumatized young Bosnian scriptwriter Tarik (Ermin Bravo) is feted by a two-faced French producer (Francois Berleand) out to make a fast euro producing a fashionable Bosnian movie. “Later, you have to talk about your suffering,” he encourages the youth at a posh reception of insufferable French intellectuals.
Of course, the real nightmare of 1992 Sarajevo is beyond cocktail chit-chat. When the Serbian army lays siege to the city, Tarik and his elderly father are isolated in their apartment in the Muslim sector. Captured by the Serbs, Tarik is thrown into a labor camp. In a tensely filmed scene of cruelty and excess, the prisoners are fed like dogs and killed for sport. At the peak of the horror, Tarik is released by his inhuman captors because — irony — the producer heard he’s written a brilliant script and pulls strings to get him to Paris.
The film he has written is about how his father (Ermin Sijamija) got arrested and tortured in 1941 by Tito’s communist zealots. Like his son, the father loses his girlfriend in the war but survives. The two stories are annoyingly intercut in comparative flashbacks so frequently they’re hard to keep straight.
Back in Paris, Tarik discovers his cruelest captor (played by actor/director Dejan Acimovic, a Mussolini look-alike) is walking free and unpunished. Film strongly suggests the cycle of violence is endless. But burdened with commonplace dialogue and superficial performances, pic has a hard time coming across as real in any way — even as a reflection on film narrative — despite a final plot twist.