4 Stars
Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 88 minutes
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Like a stage play, this acclaimed Bosnian film keeps its drama very tightly focussed: it’s basically three characters and one location. And it’s riveting stuff! Set in 1993, it opens with a group of Bosnian soldiers on their way to the front, lost in the fog when they come under fire from the Serbs. Chiki (Djuric) discovers himself alone in no man’s land, face-to-face with the young Serb Nino (Bitorajac) … as well as the fact that his best friend (Sovagovic) is laying on a live mine. What follows is a game of shifting power, moral dilemmas and political maneuvering involving a perplexed French UN officer (Siatidis), a tenacious British TV reporter (Cartledge) and a pompous UN commander (Callow).
The film effectively builds the tension, examining the issues without ever resorting to obvious answers (as if there were any!) and keeping the characters’ internal conflicts at the centre. It’s powerful stuff, and it highlights the complexities of this specific conflict in a new way, while at the same time making a strong statement about war in general. The UN’s non-intervention policies get a good skewering–and well-deserved too, as one character observes how non-intervention itself is a way of taking sides. There’s also real meaning in the way original languages are used–misunderstandings, arrogance and all. The characters are all very well played; each one is natural and engaging, and rather dangerous in their own way! In the end the script might be just a bit too tightly written–its theatrical structure is apparent in every aspect, from the setting to the story’s structure. But this doesn’t lessen its power–on the contrary, it makes it a serious artistic achievement we can’t afford to ignore.

Posted on January 12, 2004 in Reviews by

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