Excursion / Ekskurzija (2023) Film Review from the 76th Annual Locarno Film Festival, a movie directed by Una Gunjak and starring Asja Zara Lagumdzija, Maja Izetbegovic, Nadja Spaho, Mediha Musliovic, Izudin Bajrovic, Muhamed Hadzovic and Vedran Tuce.
Filmmaker Una Gunjak has crafted a solemn and intensely moving character study of a confused young girl with the new film, Excursion. Set in Sarajevo, we meet Iman (a terrific Asja Zara Lagumdzija), a high school-bound girl whose class is getting ready to go on a trip. Iman’s actions and a lie she tells become the focus of the school’s faculty and the other students’ parents during the course of the movie. Gunjak has made a movie full of realistic scenes that help drive the plot forward in such a way that the viewer will be fascinated by the character of Iman who is smart and unique but is flawed and longs for acceptance.
Iman stands out from the other girls in her school. She seems more in sync with reality than some of her classmates which makes a lie that she tells all the more surprising. Iman wants to fit in but it’s not so easy. She seems a bit timid even when interacting with her best friend. The game “truth or dare” helps propel the story line of the movie. Iman gets involved with a slightly older guy. Nothing really happens between them. But, soon, Iman reveals that she is pregnant which causes an uproar that could jeopardize the class trip and a whole lot more.
As Iman’s mom, Maja Izetbegovic delivers a stand-out performance. When Iman is put under a microscope by the school for her actions, a test is soon demanded to provide proof of whether or not she is pregnant. Iman’s mom suffers the most through her daughter’s potentially false assertion. As played by Izetbegovic, the mother is full of confusion as she is forced to re-evaluate her whole familial situation. That’s not to mention the monetary problems the family seems to have. It seems Iman is seeking attention but for what reason, exactly? And, is there any turning back for them as things truly begin to get out of hand? This movie offers no easy answers to these complicated questions.
Asja Zara Lagumdzija is perfectly cast as the lead in this movie. The actress maintains her character’s sense of confusion as well as her sense of longing. We truly sympathize with her. With her short blonde hair and somewhat frail outer appearance, we slowly begin to understand why she creates the lie that threatens to affect those of all the characters surrounding them.
As the film moves towards its somewhat ambiguous conclusion, there is a scene where Iman begins to feel the actual consequences of her action come to life. It’s a heart-wrenching scene which is disturbing to watch. There are some light scenes such as when a teacher plays truth or dare with his class but the movie is mostly on the heavy side with some very delicate situations which are played out effectively and realistically under Gunjak’s accomplished direction. There is some good use of songs on the film’s soundtrack (they help move the story along) as well as an excellent supporting performance by Nadja Spaho as well.
Ultimately, the scenes between Lagumdzija and Izetbegovic help shape the film and give it a dramatic center. These characters interact with each other in a moving way as the mom tries to better understand her daughter. Izetbegovic’s mom is called at work at one point and asked to make a choice by the school regarding Iman’s behavior that will challenge the mom and the way Izetbegovic plays this scene is excellent. This is a mom who has been caught off-guard and is being asked to speak for her daughter’s actions and make life changes over something that seems so inconsequential. But, in the eyes of the other characters in the movie, the actions of Iman are not to be taken lightly. This creates much complexity in the film’s plot.
If not for Lagumdzija, though, this film wouldn’t be as strong as it is. She’s forced to single-handedly carry the majority of the movie. Whether or not you relate to her will determine how affected you are by this movie’s revelations. Excursion examines what it is like to be an outsider and what happens when one has to face peer pressures in order to feel accepted. Does one lie for attention or continue to be an outsider? That’s the dilemma the movie presents. Excursion is certainly a well-made film but it is also an important one. It never looks for an easy way out of the material it presents. Instead it opens up the door to conversations regarding the events that transpire in the picture. It’s a very good film.
Leave your thoughts on this Excursion review and the film below in the comments section. Readers seeking to support this type of content can visit our Patreon Page and become one of FilmBook’s patrons. Readers seeking more Locarno Film Festival news can visit our Locarno Film Festival Page, our Film Festival Page, and our Film Festival Facebook Page. Readers seeking more film reviews can visit our Movie Review Page, our Movie Review Twitter Page, and our Movie Review Facebook Page. Want up-to-the-minute notifications? FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, Feedly, Twitter, Fac