The title of writer-director Nina Ognjanović’s offbeat drama, Where The Road Leads (Ovuda ce proci put), has several meanings. It might be referring to the mysterious young man who shows up in the out-of-the-way Serbian village to everyone’s shock. It could be about the highway that’s disrupting the townspeople’s lives. Maybe it has a more metaphorical meaning. No matter how one interprets the title, there’s no forgetting the journey in store.
The film starts with Jana (Jana Bjelica) racing through town. Why? Because she wants to save the foreigner’s life, who no one seems to know a thing about. Smash cut to 6 AM. Here, the main townsfolk and their way of life are introduced. 6:20 AM. Jana overhears important information.
When the stranger, Novi (Zlatan Vidovic), shows up, the town erupts into chaos. The first reason for this is that the construction of the highway that’ll bias their already forgotten land creates a power outage. Or did the arrival of this unknown figure cause it? There are those in the village who believe that. Is that why people might be trying to kill Novi? Is Jana doomed to run in her life in never-ending circles?
“…[a] mysterious young man…shows up in the out-of-the-way Serbian village to everyone’s shock.”
Where The Road Leads cuts to and fro, including “the day before,” teasing information over its 1 hour and 21-minute runtime. The precise editing by Rastko Ubovic means the narrative never becomes confusing or frustrating. In fact, if this were told in a more conventional manner, it might not be all that engaging. But, as it stands, the movie is a surreal drama that proves most captivating.
For starters, Bjelica is absolutely amazing as the young Jana. Her desperation to leave nowheresville is palpable, as is her genuine concern for how people treat Novi. Vidovic is charming and disarming, instantly allowing audiences to be on his side. The two share excellent chemistry, making Jana’s belief in this man as her potential path to a better life all the more believable. The rest of the cast is just as good, especially with doling out the occasional witty banter.
Beyond the cast, Where The Road Leads stands out thanks to the direction. Ognjanović and director of photography Vladislav Andrejevic use subtle camera movements to help viewers navigate the town. The opening sequence, wherein Jana is running through town to save Novi, doubles as a tour of the main locations without anyone realizing it at first. A slow push-in when Jana eavesdrops signifies the importance of what she hears. The wide-open shots of the surrounding terrain Novi and Jana hike through represent what lies beyond the borders of the small community Jana feels trapped in.
Where The Road Leads is filled with drama, heart, and a wicked sense of humor. The leads are impeccably cast, while Ognjanović’s command of tone and the visual style is excellent. Everything is all the more impressive, considering this is the director’s first full-length title (the same goes for Jana Bjelica). If one is in the mood for something a little odd and very engrossing, seek this out immediately.