Black Cat, White Cat

Director: Emir Kusturica

Black Cat, White Cat, Bosnian-born-film-maker Emir Kusturica’s long-delayed and much anticipated followup to Underground, emerges as a colourful, frenetic mixture of slapstick and folklore. There’s hardly a hint of Balkan politics in this prodigiously well-made, frantically paced comedy, which is filled to the brim with colourful characters involved in sometimes familiar but always engaging situations. The people here are gypsies who live on the banks of the Danube river. These cheerful outcasts, who inhabit roughly constructed, semi-permanent dwellings, make a living via all kinds of skullduggery. Kusturica cleary adores these larger-than-life characters, and his film is filled with wonderfully expressive faces and personalities.
Grga Pitic (Sabri Sulejman), garbage dump godfather, and Zarije (Zabit Memedov), cement works czar, are both in their 80s; they’re old and dear friends, though they haven’t seen each other in 25 years. When Zarije’s good-for-nothing son, Matko (Baijram Severdzan), becomes involved in the heist of a train carrying valuable fuel, he needs money to finance the hijack; unable to seek assistance from his father, he goes to Grga for help.
But Matko is double-crossed by his partner, Dadan, who demands compensation from the hapless Matko – he orders that Matko’s son, Zae, marry Dadan’s vertically challenged sister, Afrodita. The trouble is, Zare is in love with Ida, while Afrodita is also unenthusiastic about the proposed nuptials. The wedding itself is the film’s hilarious centre, but there are plenty of laughs in the final stretches, in which all ends so well that Kusturica is able to conclude with the title Happy End.

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