"Here and There" Is Neither

A pleasant, minor-key romance, Darko Lungulov's Here and There has the unadorned integrity of a classic joke. There's pleasure in watching the conceit unfold, which is sweetened by an unexpectedly poignant payoff. Veteran bit player David Thornton headlines as Robert, a surly boho graybeard who's given up jazz saxophone for full-time depression. Unemployable and out of New York crash pads, he takes a young immigrant up on a $5,000 scheme to marry and chaperone his Serbian girlfriend to America. Needless to say, there are complications, and Robert finds himself marooned — unpaid, luggageless, and wearing another man's mismatched sweatsuit — in Belgrade. Though the world didn't need another tale of white-male midlife crisis, as Robert makes his breakthrough, the film does too, creating characters from local color and wisely favoring Belgrade over an NYC-set parallel plot. Most important, it steers away from inflated notions of redemption in favor of the unexpectedly sublime, like the odd intimacy of wearing gifted pajamas and a friendship forged over a two-liter bottle of beer. Sporting a permafrown and crazily cowlicked hair, Thornton stops short of outright mugging, while Mirjana Karanovic, as Robert's tentative love interest, emerges as the soul of the movie. Their scenes together hint at greater depths of feeling than Lungulov's slight if admirably restrained first film is designed to explore.

 
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