By Anna Swanson
For the mother-daughter pair of Sanja Zivkovic’s directorial debut Easy Land, the old sentiment that the grass is always greener on the other side resolutely rings true. Jasna (Mirjana Jokovic) is a Serbian immigrant committed to her dream of giving the teenage Nina (Nina Kiri) a better life in Canada. She’s an aspiring architect confident that she’s a job away from success, but she spends her days doing menial work as an intern at an interior design company—the type of place where the decorative books are all neutral so as not to clash with any other colour schemes. Meanwhile, Nina desperately wants to relocate to Serbia, partially because she has friends there, but also because it fulfills an “anywhere but here” requirement: she’s dejectedly repeating her final year of high school and wants nothing more than to escape. The two live in a small high-rise apartment in Toronto’s West End, from which Zivkovic’s camera captures the lights of the city twinkling in the distance through windows, rendering the setting both intimate and removed. Despite their close confines, the two never manage to see eye to eye with one another, each one sure that their plans deserve to win out. The trajectory of the story is rather boilerplate, and while the performances are assured, the two leads never quite manage to convincingly sell the exposition-heavy dialogue. But Easy Land depicts an experience that will speak to many and does so with sensitivity and a clear affection for its headstrong characters. As far as debuts go, Zivkovic has demonstrated her work isn’t without promise. Maybe her next film will be a bit greener.