The Fastest Year

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The Fastest Year

At the waterfront, Carol and Luka eat hamburgers and French fries, and Carol says she hasn't gone to a drive-through in a long time; Luka says it would have been a shame to leave the car alone "on its first day," and Carol says she agrees. Luka says he often used to come out to the lakefront when he first came to Chicago, to look at the city: "It's so beautiful." Carol asks if he grew up in a city, and he says no, near the coast. Carol sips her drink and pauses before hazarding a question: "Is that where you were during the war?" Luka looks down, then back at Carol and says, "No," and as she takes a bite of her hamburger, he goes on, "Then, we were in Vukovar. Small apartment; we didn't have much money." He bites his lip. "We . . . kept the children in all the time for safety." Cut to a shot of Carol freezing mid-bite when she realizes what he's about to tell her. Back to Luka: "They would get crazy, what do you call it --" "Cabin fever," Carol says. Luka nods, smiles a tiny pained smile, opens his mouth, closes it, starts again: "I was going to the market, not for much, some cheese and bread." Another shot of Carol bracing herself. Luka: "And -- they were climbing all over me, 'please, let me come, let me come' -- and the answer was, the same as always, 'no, it's not safe.'" Luka tightens his jaw: "And my wife stayed with them --" Carol tries to give him an out, to let him stop: "Luka --" "No, it's okay," and he swipes at the bridge of his nose, presumably at a tear, as Carol turns partly away from him and looks ill. "I was only maybe, uh -- fifty meters away when I heard the whistle in the air." Carol turns back towards Luka as he finishes, "An artillery shell hit the building." Carol closes her eyes, then looks out at the skyline and whispers something to herself that we can't hear. Luka looks down at the ground, his face working, but reins it in after a second and says bravely, "It's all redone now. People rebuilt all during the war. One day you're sitting at the café, the next day it's bombed, and the day after that they, they begin to build." He smiles a fake smile to make Carol feel better, but Carol clearly doesn't buy it, and she studies him silently as he says, "That's what you do. Something happens, you rebuild, you go on," and do you think Carol will absorb this sentiment and apply it to her own life? Because I can't decide, and the hail of baseball-bat blows to the head is making it hard for me to concentrate. Carol continues to eye him; Luka stares at the ground some more, then remarks that they should probably go, laughing, "Your mother will think you've gone joy-riding." Oy, no comment. Carol smiles sadly and looks out at the lake some more.

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