On the wedding day that is the result of much family plotting, flower bedecked white linens blow in the breeze while the brother of the bride celebrates by shooting up the sky with his pistol and a gangster juggles hand grenades.
The press kit for "Black Cat, White Cat" says it all: Yugoslavia/Germany/France, in Serbo-Croatian and Romany with English subtitles. It promises the merry chaos that will unfold before our eyes for over two hours (30 minutes too long). With eccentric flair and a cast of nearly all first-time actors, writer/director Emir Kusturica has conjured up life in a Gypsy settlement on the banks of the Danube. He has made a frenzied farce that packs the visual force of a fireworks finale.
There's no need to try to track the players--it can't be done. Three generations of two families mix it up with an hilarious assortment of friends, relatives, bystanders, and crooks who are involved in a plot so intricate that it's unfathomable. If both the characters and the plot are unclear, what's so good about this movie? Everything else.
Two brides, two grooms, two fathers, many swindlers, a stolen train, smuggled gasoline. You see not just a circus wagon, but a circus wagon floating past on a barge, with a man watering the flowers in the window box. Home base is a decrepit dockside shack. Covered with animals, artifacts, and unimaginable clutter, the front-porch dock is home to people who play violins, run, trip, and fall all over the mess that is their home.
In a misstep between ship and shore, a man plunges into the water with his newly bought washing machine. The Russians arrive to claim contraband Jordanian fuel. A man drinks beer as he rides by on a pig; another pig eats an automobile. A dead man with a briefcase full of money in his hand swings from a swaying railroad gate. A brass band makes music while being roped up and down a tree trunk. A man swims through the water carrying a dish of ice cream to his girl, who lies flirting and floating in an inner tube. Boats, motor scooters, wheelchairs, and wagons buzz across beautiful fields and rivers.
Drugs, alcohol, and dishonor are the lifeblood of this culture. A grandmother sells her granddaughter to a gangster, but she flees and drives off into a majestic field of sunflowers on a white motor scooter to make love with her own true love. You get the idea. It's wonderful. It's a brilliantly colored abstract painting jumping to exuberant life, each scene a completed masterstroke. There is no stillness here, just a life dance set to a jubilant score.
On the wedding day that is the result of much family plotting, flower bedecked white linens blow in the breeze while the brother of the bride celebrates by shooting up the sky with his pistol and a gangster juggles hand grenades. By the time a tall, lanky passerby finds a pink slipper beside a moving tree stump, the audience has surrendered. The raw joy of this Gypsy culture is bathed in bright light and gleeful energy. Emir Kusturica said it well: "You'd never see this in Switzerland."
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 498
Studio : October Films
Rating : NR
Running time : 2h15m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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