Filled with memories of the four- year siege of Sarajevo , Gemma (Penelope Cruz) , anxiously boards a flight from her native Rome to that war-scarred city with her son, Pietro. Nineteen years ago, in the thick of the conflict, Pietro was born. That night Gemma fled on a Red Cross cargo plane back to Rome with her new born son, just hours old. Left behind were her husband Diego (Emile Hirsch), whom she would not see alive again, and the makeshift family of siege survivors they had come to love: their beloved Gojko, the irriverent Bosnian poet, yo-yo importer; Aska, the ribellious Muslim girl with a gift for playing trumpet, her godchild Sebina. With this trip, Gemma now hopes to teach her son about the city of his birth and about Diego, the father he never new. All these incandescent and heroic characters, despite their invisible wounds, emerge as unforgettable examples of the dignity and human kindess that abound even in the darkest time of war. In a stunning final revelation that is both heartbreaking and cathartic, Gemma learns just how deeply the faith of her imperfect family is entwined with the resilient city of Sarajevo and its inhabitants.
Although Born Twice handles many weighty topics and sets its story during a moment in history so bloody it affected millions of people around the world it somehow gets so wrapped up in the melodrama and minutiae of a couple’s lives that it fails to link its story to the horrific events in any meaningful or tangible way.
Telling the story of Gemma (Penelope Cruz) as she returns to Sarajevo with her son to see where his father Diego (Emile Hirsch) died during the Bosnian conflict. As Gemma begins reliving the harrowing ordeal that brought her son to her she learns new things about the man she loved and what really happened to him when war broke out and their found themselves sucked into the conflict.
A supposed generational picture, Born Twice is an emotionally manipulative film that doesn't grasp the concept of tact as the war is used as a tool to work your emotions despite Gemma and Diego’s distressing and selfish actions. The film’s attempts to depict them as heroes or at least scared aid volunteers backfires as their own personal problems consume the films lengthy flashbacks.
Hirsch plays the same character he did in Into The Wild, a man looking for adventure and wonder but one whose life experiences turn into fear and pain. He makes Diego at least humorous but his ego is almost another character. Cruz somehow makes it easy to empathise with hateful Gemma, a woman consumed by her own personal issues and her search for a child to as she puts it ‘bind her to Diego’. A natural and healthy relationship this ain’t.
Ultimately its hard to find reason to feel joy upon the films conclusion as the film manages to suck the life and soul out of the films characters, never to return it to them, leaving them husks of the people they once were, even though this nation has supposedly learnt somthing. With this much pain and misery and self loathing, what's the point in being happy except for the fact its all over
You rated this film: 2
George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
Classification is to be confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification