Movie Review by Neils Hesse
Starring: Slavko Stimac, Natasa Solak, Vesna Trivalic, Vuk Kostic
Director: Emir Kusturica
These days whenever you mention the words Bosnia or Serbia some people automatically think of conflict, so it is very enlightening to have a film that revolves around the war but isn’t directly about it.
Sometime before the conflict a Serbian man called Luka (Slavko Stimac) moves to Bosnia with his wife and son to work on a railway. His son settles in quite quickly but his wife doesn’t seem as happy. Alas shortly after their arrival the conflict between Bosnia and Serbia escalates and their son Milos has to report for duty as a soldier. As if this wasn’t enough for Luka to handle, his supposedly loving wife abruptly runs off with another man.
Fate deals Luka a heavy blow when he finds out that his son has been taken hostage by the Bosnian army. Shortly after this disaster the Serbian army drop off a young Muslim woman called Sabaha (Natasa Solak) to be held hostage by Luka until they can arrange to trade her for his son. Everything starts off fine, but as Luka spends more time with her he finds himself falling desperately in love with her and she with him. Still, considering the ongoing war and the fact that he has to get his son back, their love seems destined to fail.
The first half of this film is a haze of dancing, drinking and merrymaking and quite frankly becomes a bit boring, but just as you begin to question the whole point of the film, the war starts and then the film concentrates on Luka and his struggles. The second half is a poignant love story that truly celebrates the fact that ‘life is a miracle’. Indeed, the performances from Slavko Stimac and Natasa Solak are so emotionally raw that it proves very hard to believe that they have not truly fallen deeply in love with each other, brilliant work from both of them.
Expertly directed by Emir Kusturica, his only flaw is the lengthy first half that could definitely have done with some very heavy editing. It has a purpose but that could have been fulfilled in much less time.
So if you can survive the first half you will be duly rewarded with a very intimate love story that will definitely tug at your heartstrings in all the right ways.