Director: Edon Rizvanolli | 85 minutes | drama | Actors: Adriana Matoshi, Jason de Ridder, Niki Verkaar, Hugo Koolschijn, Celia Nufaar, Besnik Krapi, Bislim Muçaj, Shkumbin Istrefi, Edon Rizvanollie, Lilja Björk Hermannssdottir, Dennis Overeem, Xhejlane Terbunja, Kiefer Zwart, Roos Netjes, Blerta Ismail, Blerta Alphonso, Flirst Bajgora, Loup Bisscheroux, Dukagjin Podrimaj, Annemarie Schäfer, Silvana Span, Laurens van Lottum
‘Unwanted’ is the Kosovar entry for the Oscar for best non-English film and has a Dutch touch with director Edon Rizvanolli (born in Kosovo, but living and working in the Netherlands) and a partly Dutch cast. In addition, the film is also largely set
in Amsterdam, so that we can look forward with extra excitement to the announcement of the Oscar nominations.
‘Unwanted’ is about the relationship between the Kosovar single mother Zana (Adriana Matoshi), who fled to the Netherlands during the Balkan War, and her difficult adolescent son Alban (Jason de Ridder). Zana works in a flower shop and tries to learn Dutch. Alban feels completely Dutch – after all, he has lived here all his life. He still goes to school, but gets into fights with others there so often that he is regularly expelled from school, sometimes even for good. The size is full for Zana and she looks for a job for him at a bicycle repairer.
Initially it is difficult for the viewer to muster sympathy for Alban. After fleeting sex in a toilet in a nightlife venue, he insults his ‘date’, he is not too obliging towards his mother and when he meets Ana through the bicycle repairman, you do not immediately have the feeling that the next date – before Ana – is a good idea. But nothing could be further from the truth. Alban also appears to have a sweet, soft side and Ana brings out the best in him.
When Zana’s mother, who still lives in Kosovo, dies, the pair go on a family visit. They are certainly not welcomed with open arms, Zana is even sent away while standing next to her mother’s body in mourning. In Kosovo, Alban finally learns why his mother has lost contact with her family.
Back in the Netherlands, the relationship between Alban and Ana becomes stronger, but the resistance of both parents also increases proportionally. Ana’s father (played by the director himself) is of Serbian descent and old war wounds have not yet healed. Especially with Zana, she is so completely against the relationship that she would rather move than lose her son to this girl.
‘Unwanted’ deals sensitively with the differences between the generation that experienced the war and the generation after that. The story highlights both points of view, but you involuntarily choose one side. Well done, but ‘Unwanted’ is also a bit long-winded, especially in the dreamy scenes with the young love couple. A tough turn in the story shakes the viewer and takes the film to a higher level. Somewhat unbalanced, but intriguing and at times even impressive. Oscar nomination or not, remember the name Edon Rizvanolli!