An appealing look at adolescence in 1950s Yugoslavia, HEY BABU RIBA is a bittersweet tale of four teenage boys who grow up loving the same girl, hating the same political system and dancing to the same American music.
As the film opens the boys are now middle-aged men who have returned to Belgrade from homes in New York, London, Paris and Milan for the funeral of the girl. At the grave site, they approach the dead woman's daughter who believes that one of them must be her father. The foursome then agree to have
a drink with a fifth mourner, a former Communist who is the actual father. They reflect on their youth which leads to a flashback in which the boys (Bakocevic, Bjelogrlic, Todorovic and Radakovic) are members of a rowing team and their coxswain is Miriana (Videnovic), the teenage girl they all
once desired. They love Glenn Miller, Levis, Marlboros, and American films, especially the 1944 Esther Williams picture BATHING BEAUTY.
Although the political climate under Marshal Tito makes everyone's life difficult, the foursome survive on the strength of their friendship. Their bond is threatened, however, as each boy declares his love for Miriana, who is determined to keep her relationship with them platonic. Each of the lads
is feeling the pressures of puberty, so each finds an older woman who will take him into her bed. The day following each boy's ascent to manhood, he appears, wearing blue jeans and smoking cigarettes. The naive Miriana makes no connection between this behavior and their loss of virginity. She is
still more concerned with friendship than sexual relations. Things begin to change for her when she is courted by Ristic (Strljic), the Communist. One morning, she is seen smoking a cigarette. Then she learns that she's pregnant.
A semi-autobiographical account of life in Yugoslavia, HEY BABU RIBA is the work of three lifelong friends who, like the characters in the film, have all gone on to highly successful careers outside of their native country. The second feature from director Jovan Acin (his first, THE CONCRETE ROSE
led to his leaving the country), HEY BABU RIBA originated during a yearly reunion between Acin and the film's two producers--George Zecevic and Petar Jankovic. Finding a delicate balance between politics and daily life, director Acin has made a picture which is universal in its appeal. The
performances all capture a certain adolescent honesty, with the stunning 16-year-old Videnovic photographing beautifully. It is unfortunate that her underdeveloped character lacks the depth and complexity to match her lovely face.
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