Cinema Review: Twice Born | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021  

Twice Born

Studio: eONE Films
Directed by Sergio Castellitto

Dec 05, 2013 Web Exclusive
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Twice Born is set mainly in Sarajevo, somewhat against the Bosnian War, chronicling the unlikely love story between an Italian student Gemma (Penelope Cruz) and an American photographer Diego (Emile Hirsch). It’s love at first sight—well, not technically, but her immediate hesitations (his age and economic status, her fiancée and general disinterest) are quickly cast aside. In Gemma’s hometown of Rome, they somehow purchase a nice flat where they hope to start a family, only to learn she is unable to conceive. They unsuccessfully explore adaption and other avenues when—now back in Sarajevo—a mutual friend agrees to be a surrogate. But with doctors occupied with the looming war—it must be 1992 now—his seed must be delivered the old fashioned way.

Twice Born wants so desperately to be taken seriously that it creates an unnecessarily complex narrative, void of any chemistry-building moments for its romantic leads. It doesn’t help that Hirsch and Cruz feel incredibly foreign to the film’s Balkan setting, but if they aren’t miscast, they’re at least mis-paired. Though they—and those around them—continually insist they are madly in love, it can be uncomfortable watching two talents without a natural spark try to build something out of banal scenarios wrought with cheesy dialogue (the line “I wanted my son to have his legs” sounds no less awful in an Italian accent).

The only worthwhile scenes—which occur well over halfway through the film—involve the Bosnian War, detailing the scarring, often-random horrors brought upon the inhabitants of Sarajevo. An especially cruel war to women, the most heart-wrenching scenes involve the surrogate, an aspiring musician quieted by an unforgiving, sadistic conflict, played wonderfully by Turkish actress Saadet Aksoy. Not enough fiction has been devoted to such a complex war, and Twice Born’s final 30 minutes exhibit potential that is unfortunately dulled by an overabundance of schmaltz and melodrama.

Author rating: 3.5/10

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