Life Is a Miracle

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Bosnia, 1992. Railway engineer Luka has escaped Belgrade with his mad opera-singer wife Jadranka and footballer son Milos to work rebuilding the railway in a mountain village near the Serbian border. Bears – escaped from Croatia – are terrorising households, the corrupt mayor vies with his deputy for the lucrative reins of power, and the TV channels announce an escalation of violence presaging full-scale war. Meanwhile, life’s carnival continues and the band – Kusturica’s nihilist post-punk No Smoking Orchestra – plays on.
The title of Kusturica’s latest, written in conjunction with Ranko Bozic, plays on Capra’s life-affirming classic, and the film foregrounds a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ love affair that develops between Luka and attractive Muslim ‘exchange prisoner’ Sabaha (Natasa Solak) after his conscripted son is captured and his wife leaves him. As such, it’s less a political extravaganza than, say, ‘Underground’. It’s a welcome change to see Kusturica’s trademark operatic excesses, raucous set pieces, poetic flights and absurdist details at the service of a more old-fashioned romantic narrative, even though the freeform style still suggests a rambling chronicle of an affair with metaphorical overtones rather than a deep examination of individual characters. There’s a worrying sense, too, that he is repeating himself – the horse in the house, the football match turning into a fog-bound field of war and putative coups du cinéma lose power by virtue of their predictability and mannerism. Whatever, the film’s compassionate heart, Michael Amathieu’s excellent cinematography and the attractive lead performances all help to ensure that this is a diverting enough romantic entertainment.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 11 2005
Duration: 154 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Emir Kusturica
Screenwriter: Emir Kusturica, Ranko Bosic
Cast: Slavko Stimac
Natasa Solak
Vesna Trivalic
Aleksandar Bercek
Vuk Kostic
Stribor Kusturica
Nikola Kojo
Mirjana Karanovic
Branislav Lalevic
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