When the stakes are life and death, the choices that are open to us are nothing short of impossible. Regardless of the the path that one takes, we know that someone will lose their life.
The new movie, Quo Vadis, Aida?, takes place in the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s. History tells us that over 8000 Bosniaks Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Bosnian army. Aida Selmanagic (Jasna Djuricic) is a translator in the summer of 1995. The Bosnians have just entered the town and are killing civilians who have not already escaped. Thousands upon thousands have made their way to the United Nations compound, looking for safety. But only a handful are able to enter.
Aida is able to get her husband and sons into the compound. But with many more outside, she has a horrible choice to make. She can either put her family first or save as many as she can.
If I were to compile a list of the best films of 2021 today, Quo Vadis, Aida would be near the top of the list. Djuricic gives a heartbreaking and tour de force performance. Her anxiety comes out of the screen immediately, as does the imminent feeling of danger.
When it comes to movies about war and trying to save lives, most of the protagonists are men. The fact that the lead character is a female who is a full fledged human being makes the narrative that much more powerful.
I felt myself getting angry at how useless the UN officials were. Whatever attempts they made to keep the peace were easily destroyed. I also saw similarities to The Holocaust, in which hate and murder was the norm.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt, yes.
Quo Vadis, Aidais available for streaming on Hulu.
*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Losing a loved one is hard enough. But losing your spouse or partner when your children are young is another level of grief. While dealing with the fact that the person you loved most in the world is gone, you also have the responsibility of being the sole parent.
On The Nanny, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) is a Broadway producer and a widower with three kids. Though it is never clearly stated why his wife passed, it is obvious that her loss is still palpable. Due to a very busy work schedule, he is unable to spend as much time with his kids as he would like. Which is why he hires Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) as the nanny.
In the beginning, their relationship is strictly that of employer/employee. But over the course of five years, the mutual attraction as well as a Ricky/Lucy relationship begins to emerge. In contrast to Maxwell’s gentrified, sometimes emotionally distant upper class world, Fran comes from a lower class family who does not have access to the things he has, but has the love of a close family. When they are on a return flight back from Paris turbulence hits the plane, Maxwell blurts out that he is in love with her. After they get home, he takes it back giving his butler Niles (Daniel Davis) comic meat to hold over his boss’s head.
When he finally gathers the courage to be open about his feelings and propose, his business partner C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane) has a breakdown after years of romantically chasing him. The last time we see Maxwell, he and Fran are parents to infant twins and they are moving to Los Angeles where he is going to produce a television series.
To sum it up: It takes courage to find new love after the death of one’s spouse/partner. Live in the past is easy, opening your heart to someone new is harder. In eventually revealing his feelings for Fran and marrying her, he proves that it is possible to love again while still remembering the one you lost.