Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
Directed by: Danis Tanovic
Running time: 113 minutes
Release Date: February 17, 2012
Genre: Drama, War and Adaptation in Bosnian with English subtitles
Distributor: Strand Releasing
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Based on the novel of the same title by the well known Bosnian Croat writer Ivica Djikic , Cirkus Columbia tells a story that is set after the fall of the communist regime in 1991 Bosnia-Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia).
Slightly before the Yugoslav Wars, this is an emotional story of a man Divko Buntic (Miki Manojlovic) coming back to his hometown after many years of exile in Germany. Returning with an attractive young girlfriend Azra (Jelena Stupljanin), a flashy new Mercedes, a pocket full of money, and a lucky black cat, his presence is not totally welcome. His first act of returning home is to evict his estranged wife Lucai (Mira Furlan) and teenage son Martin (Boris Ler) from the home they lived in for 20 years of his exile.
The plot is humorous at times, and it gives a lightness to a heavy theme of an upcoming Civil War. Divko loses his lucky black cat and soon things begin to fall apart for him, as his girlfriend becomes very uncomfortable with the situation they are living. The rocky relation with his son has him upset and leaves Lucai extremely agree with his interference in the family unit. As the town's people are offered a large reward, they search frantically for Divko's lost cat. Martin and Azra become closer than the typical stepmother and stepson because of the closeness of their age. Meanwhile, the country at large has signs of the coming Bosnian War.
Writer/Director Danis Tanovic, the Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film of No Man's Land, unfurls a ravishing vision of sensuality and playfulness in this movie. Yet, the plot explores the threat of war acknowledging the horror and heartbreak that accompanies it. This film depicts the life of an important historical personage from the past.
Often, I felt the story characterized a melodramatic theme by a plot to appeal to the emotions of the audience. Perhaps, leaving me thinking that it pejoratively connotes an unrealistic, pathos-filled tale of romance and domestic situations with stereotypical characters using the political dealings of the region as a backdrop. However, Jelena Stupljanin shines as Azra, the trophy girlfriend of Divko and love interest of Martin. Her portrayal of a mature woman for Divko and a youthful woman to attract Martin is quite amazing.
Cirkus Columbia, lands an imaginative production with an accomplished ensemble of actors that bubbles with life.
FILM RATING (B)