Esma's Secret (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

A few minutes in, anybody with even a passing knowledge of recent Bosnian history will probably guess Esma's secret, which does diminish the film's dramatic impact. But the actors underplay it beautifully, and it is full of strange, alarming touches: the action is set in contemporary Sarajevo, where the threat of extreme violence is never too far from the surface and the death of your family is part of the small-talk you make with strangers; but at the climax, as Esma rails at her rebellious teenage daughter, you notice posters of Keira Knightley and Christina Aguilera staring down from the bedroom walls; and it's a shock to realise how close at hand this is.

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