Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cirkus Columbia

Director Danis Tanovic ("No Man's Land") returns with the charming "Cirkus Columbia," a slice of small-town life in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 90s. Divko, a wealthy native, returns from a 20-year exile (he left when the commies came in), bringing a hot young redheaded wife, a flashy red Mercedes with a gas tank somewhere the service station attendant has never seen one, and his beloved black cat. The ex-wife and ham-radio-loving son he left behind are none too happy to see him, especially when he has the local police chief evict them from his apartment.

A foreign film that loses a lot in translation can either prove baffling or endearing, and this is one where you feel you get the music, if not all the idiomatic words. "If I were afraid of mice, I would hire a cat as a bodyguard," one man says to another. Interpersonal tensions simmer and usually simmer down, occasionally erupting into mild confrontations. The backdrop is the coming Balkan war, and the movie's points about the inanity of war are made effective by its loving look at the way of life the war interrupted.

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