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Twice Born 

Loves and lives are scrambled during the Bosnian war in this melodrama

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Sergio Castellitto's nonlinear melodrama spans a couple of decades, from the early 1980s to contemporary times. We follow the lives of a loosely connected group, who all meet up amongst artists and intellectuals in Bosnia before the war. The outsiders are an Italian woman, Gemma (Penelope Cruz), and her lover, a rakish American photographer (Emile Hirsch), who return to Italy and find their relationship tested first by infertility, and then by the war in Sarajevo. The first hour of Castellitto's film is rather meandering, cutting between Gemma's return to Sarajevo with her teenage son, and the unfolding of the tumultuous times of her youth. But as the war takes precedence, the various threads of the story come into sharper relief and the second half is more dramatically satisfying. A love affair during war is classic melodrama (with almost certain tragic outcomes), but Cruz finds a way to make this somewhat soapy tale feel intimate and heartfelt.

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