Aleksandra Koluvija reviews the 2010 Serbian film, Belgrad Radio Taxi, and explains why it captures the spirit of the city so perfectly.
Directed by Srdjan Koljevic, 105 minutes.
A bridge in Belgrade is the central point in this movie. The Gazela Bridge is the most important bridge in the city, connecting people living in downtown Belgrade and New Belgrade. Three lines in each direction symbolize a connection between the people living in this vibrant city and people separated by the Sava River can connect from the old and new town through this bridge.
In the movie Belgrad Radio Taxi (original title “Woman with a broken nose”, “Zena sa slomljenjim nosem”) three people – who don’t have much in common – are connected through being at the bridge at the same time. There is a taxi driver, a teacher and a pharmacist, who all grew lonely in Belgrade after surviving a traumatizing event. This is about everything they seem to have in common, but it is enough to show that their lives are interconnected. With the film, director Srdjan Koljevic shows that life is never simple, not even when a bridge connects many sides of a story, but there is always a path to recovery.
Gavrilo (Nebojsa Glogovac) – a taxi driver and Bosnian refugee – is driving a woman with a baby in his taxi. The woman has a broken nose and blood is running down her face whilst she holds a handkerchief and her baby. When they reach the bridge, Gavrilo is angry about all the blood in his taxi. As the car stops during the usual traffic jam, the woman with the broken nose (Nada Sargin) runs out of the taxi and jumps into the river. Gavrilo was so angry with the woman, he blames himself for her jump, but after he starts to recover from the shock he realises that her baby is still in the back seat of his taxi.
The teacher Anica (Anica Dobra) witnesses the jump and joins Gavrilo in his helplessness. After this incident her path keeps crossing with that of Gavrillo, who is taking care of the baby girl that was left in his taxi. Anica is still trying to find a way to recover from the son she lost in a car accident, resulting in her divorce. At the same timeshe is stalked by one of her students, who believes that he is emotionally connected to her. While running into Gavrilo at different times throughout the movie Anica finds out that the woman survived the suicide attempt. Gavrillo is patiently waiting for the woman’s recovery, while developing a protective instinct for both the woman and her child.
Then there is Biljana (Branka Katic) who tries to solve her own problems. On the bridge – right after the woman with the broken nose jumps – she leaves her fiancé in the car ending the engagement. She steps into Anica’s car in order to get away from her fiancé. In search of moral support, she keeps visiting Anica throughout the movie. The lives of Gavrilo, Anica and Biljana become subliminally interlinked. Unconsciously a deep bond develops between them as they realise they are all grieving. Gavrilo lost his family during the war; Anica lost her son and husband; and Biljana’s boyfriend died many years ago. Biljana and her late boyfriend had an intense relationship, and it went so far that she got very close to his entire family, especially his younger brother. The brother – now a married Serbian orthodox priest – and Biljana meet again after a long time and discover their impractical feelings for each other.
Life in Belgrade is a anything but simple and Koljevic, who also wrote the script, shows how difficult life can be in the city. The bridge – a true symbolic place in Belgrade – connects the people with the old and the new; the present and the history; the love and the tragedy; and with hope and reality. The movie is a successful attempt to show how the people of Belgrade try to survive in their old homes while keeping up with the new world. Belgrade is a fast and vibrant city with a deep history, much deeper than that of other metropolises. The history written in this city is both old and young, and all of this is incorporated and embedded in the film. Old clichés of the communistic past, Yugoslavian rock music, debated violence and prostitution are all covered in this movie. At the same time, it exemplifies these clichés in such a way that they lose importance; this is what moving on really means. As Koljevic shows with warm-hearted humour, there is only one way to see Belgrade: You let go of old ballast, throw it off the bridge, and move on into a new future.