"Hey Babu Riba"

Hey Babu Riba (1986) is a Yugoslavian coming of age film set in the mid 50s. As the film opens, a wealthy man has his limo driver stop for a paper of Yugoslav expatriates, and an obituary for a woman causes him to notify several other men in all parts of the world, and return to Yugoslavia for the funeral. Four obviously close friends meet at grave side, and are persuaded to return with a 5th man they obviously know to a luxury yacht he owns. Thus begins the film, which is all flashbacks, with a not entirely linear time line. It seems the four men, together with the dead woman, grew up inseparable, and formed a rowing team, competing in "fours," with the young woman as cox. Mirjana (Gala Videnovic) was called Esther by the others for their love of Esther Williams, and all things American. All four of the young men are madly in love with Esther, but she has no romantic or sexual interest in any of them.

Near the beginning of the film, we learn that the four rowed her to Italy to join her father, a diplomat, when she couldn't get an exit visa to join him for political reasons. They are jailed for their efforts, and her father refuses to help them when they won't say with of them made her pregnant. Most of the film asks he "who knocked up" question, but it is really the journey here that matters. The 50s were especially turbulent times in Yugoslavia, and we meet many colorful characters, including the woman who runs the local black market, Danica Maksimovic, with whom all four of the boys lose their virginity. In the end, the film is really about unconditional friendship.

Danica Maksimovic shows breasts, as does Gale Videnovic. An unknown shows full frontal as a hooker. The narrative structure is a little hard to follow, but I was far more interested in the characters and the Yugoslav society than I was in the identity of the father anyway. The infatuation of all four guys with Esther was easy for me to understand, given the looks and performance of Gala Videnovic. IMDb readers have this at 7.9. The subtitles are not especially well done, but they were sufficient to follow the story. The film had a great look, and kept 112 minute running time entertaining. This is a high C+.

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  • Danica Maksimovic (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • Gala Videonvic (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  • Unknown (1, 2, 3)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
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