Picks and Pans Review: Welcome to Sarajevo

UPDATED 12/08/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/08/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson

An impassioned, advocative film, Welcome to Sarajevo tells how the citizens of what was once one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the former Yugoslavia suffered while the world did nothing. Their pain during the three-year bombardment that began in 1992 is seen through the eyes of a veteran war journalist (Dillane)—the movie is based on the stories of British reporter Michael Nicholson—who finds himself deciding it is no longer enough just to tell the world what is happening. He's not even sure the world cares, particularly after a grisly mortar explosion in Sarajevo is bumped off the top spot on the evening's newscast by the Duke and Duchess of York's marital split. While reporting on, and helping, an American aid worker (Marisa Tomei, compelling in a small role) who is trying to get children out of the country, Dillane decides to adopt an orphaned girl himself. "She seemed to think I could get her out, and then I realized I could and there didn't really seem to be any reason not to," he tells his wife. Dillane and Harrelson, as a brash but softhearted American reporter, are both effective. Director Michael Winterbottom, who weaves in real news footage of the carnage and world leaders' equivocating, has made an angry, in-your-face movie, but he makes his indignation seem wholly justified. (R)

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