Cirkus Columbia

Film
3 out of 5 stars
Cirkus Columbia

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Someone participating in an Eastern European Auteur Fantasy League---anyone who's trolled online film-geek sites won't find the idea that such things exist even remotely far-fetched---would've held on to Danis Tanovic through several seasonal drafts, praying that his early potential would pay off in the long run. A Bosnian filmmaker who cut his teeth shooting on the front lines during the Siege of Sarajevo, Tanovic displayed a knack for sharp-edged satire with his first feature, No Man's Land, quickly scooping up a Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2001. Then a lackluster entry in the anthology September 11 (2002), a so-so adaptation of a Kieslowski script (Hell, 2005) and a woeful Colin Farrell vehicle (Triage, 2009) followed, and you could practically hear the sound of deflation among those of us who thought we might have had a new Emir Kuristica---or a tamer Dusan Makavejev---in our midst.

This fractured familial drama doesn't represent a full return to form, but it does suggest a recalibration in the right direction; a victory by inches, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless. Having been exiled by the Communists, a former Yugoslav dissident (Manojlovic) returns to his homeland with a curvy redheaded girlfriend (Stupljanin), quickly moving into his old house and heartlessly evicting his long-suffering wife (Furlan) and son (Ler); given that the Bosnian War is on the horizon, the metaphor doesn't need to be spelled out. The tongue is in cheek and the tone is ironic and bleak, at least until the should-we-stay-or-should-we-go climax punctures the mood. Still, welcome back, Danis.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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