Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life is a Miracle

Život je čudo; Drama/ Romance/ War/ Grotesque, Serbia/ France/ Italy, 2004; D: Emir Kusturica, S: Slavko Štimac, Nataša Šolak, Vesna Trivalić, Vuk Kostić, Aleksandar Berček, Stribor Kusturica, Mirjana Karanović, Nikola Kojo

Bosnia, 1992. Luka, a Serbian engineer, arrives from Belgrade to a village with his wife Jadranka, an opera singer, and teenage son Miloš, to build a railroad that will make a tourist attraction out of it. Unfortunately, the Bosnian War starts and wrecks havoc: Miloš is drafted to the army while Jadranka runs away with a singer. On top of all, Luka hears that Miloš was captured by the Bosniaks. One day, one Serb soldier brings him a Bosniak hostage, girl Sabaha, and advises him to exchange her for Miloš. Despite their rough "relationship", Sabaha falls in love with him, complicating matters when Jadranka returns. Eventually, the prisoner exchange works. However, Luka is unhappy with his old life back. He meets Sabaha again on the train and they run away together.

Emir Kusturica is arguably one of the very few directors who can cram all sorts of insanity, foolishness and nonsense into a film and yet still in the end make it somehow work, even adding a touch of unexplainable magic in the process. Even though some of his political views were problematic, his take on the Bosnian War in the dreamy-bizarre humorous drama "Life is a Miracle", nominated for a Golden Palm in Cannes, turned out refreshingly neutral and humane. Overlong and megalomaniac, and filled with the already mentioned bizarre scenes (a "train car" whose wires are attached to the railroad; a guy putting a long hose over a goalkeeper to urinate on him; a guy punching the butt of a woman with boxing gloves...), "Life is a Miracle" is still somehow strangely miraculous and enchanting in its very own way, far away from the typical mainstream magic the viewers are used to. Since it requires an open mind in order to enjoy it, this is not a film for everyone, yet Kusturica's "felliniesque" Balkan poetry still has charm. The thing that split some viewers was the sole story - the protagonist Luka keeps a Bosniak hostage, Sabaha, in his home in order to exchange her for his captured son Miloš, yet in the end she falls in love with him and shows him the real love that evaded all his life. In the end, it turns out that the war was the best thing that ever happened to him since it brought circumstances to meet the woman of his life. Some found such a message honest, others contrived. Still, the sole sequence where Luka and Sabaha are flying in the bed over the meadow stimulates the magical touch, which is why the film has its merits.


1 comment:

Jack said...

Thanks for reviews ! I hope that I will watch this film very soon. I am very much excited about this film after reading the reviews.
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