This film's plot was quite comparable to Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, though set in modern day Serbia and with considerably more sympathetic characters. I learned a little here and there about Serbian culture, like Serbian kids get cell phones just as ridiculously early as American kids. Smoking is prevalent and accepted. And I'm quite sure that my impressions are accurate, because I got them by watching a single movie.
It's story follows a family in a socioeconomically diverse part of Serbia, where corruption is in abundance. Mladen works for a construction company, whose employees are only holding onto their jobs in the hope that privatization will bring them some extra money. His wife Marija is an elementary school teacher. They're not struggling to eat or anything, but they live in a small apartment, and drive a small car.
When their son comes down with an unnamed ailment, he requires a surgical procedure that falls outside the scope of the socialized medicine available within Serbia. He must travel to Germany for a procedure which costs about € 27k. Last I checked, that was about $37k USD. They of course don't have that kind of cash, and they have no mortgage to use as collateral for a loan. (One of the few funny scenes in the movie is with Mladen's conversation with a loan officer).
Mladen gets an offer from a mysterious stranger to cover the cost of the procedure, plus any other travel expenses. He only requires one favor first. Dang, no free lunch; or, in this case, no free surgical procedure to save your 11-year old kid. The rest of the film explores Mladen's moral dilemma, his feelings of inadequacy related to his inability to help his family, and resulting marital issues. Yep, you really walk out of the theatre wanting to sing!
The cast, for the most part, portray characters with very muted emotion, though Mladen loses out to a future review for the "Most Lethargic Temper Tantrum" award at this year's festival. The script genuinely tries to address growing corruption within the nation in an honest way. The conclusion of the film seems equally honest and consistent with the characters. It's not a real "upper", but it is a fairly well-made film. My imdb rating: 7/10.