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No Man's Land

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: No Man's Land

Starring: Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac
Director: Danis Tanovic
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Foreign, Suspense, War

*Also starring: Simon Callow, Katrin Cartlidge, Georges Siatidis, Filip Sovagovic

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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

One of the best foreign language films of 2001, "No Man's Land" tells the bizarre tale of two wounded soldiers, a Bosnian and a Serb, trapped in a trench between enemy lines during the 1993 Bosnian war. Neither the Bosnian Ciki (Branko Djuric) nor the Serbian Nino (Rene Bitorajac) trust one another. They bicker about blame, each accusing the other of starting the war, and grapple repeatedly at gunpoint. But the crux of this anti-war film rests on a third man, Cera (Filip Sovagovic), Ciki's compatriot, who was shot. Under his seemingly lifeless body, a Serbian soldier has planted a spring-loaded American-made bomb known as a "bouncing mine," designed to explode three feet off the ground when the corpse is eventually retrieved by his comrades. So when the unwitting Cera revives, both Ciki and Nino realize that - if he moves - they will be killed along with him. A recent recruit, Nino has no idea how to defuse the bomb. Their only hope is to attract the attention of the United Nations humanitarian force which patrols the area. (The scene recalls "Catch 22.") But their predicament is also picked up by an aggressive, ambitious Global News Network reporter (Katrin Cartlidge) who monitors UN communications and is determined to snag interviews with the participants. Unlike the slick but less-effective "Behind Enemy Lines," imaginative Balkan writer/director Danis Tanovic delves deeper than the surface story-line, using the various soldiers' language barriers in communicating to reveal the inherent moral absurdity of the conflict, the bureaucratic ineptitude of the timid peace-makers, and the opportunism of the media. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "No Man's Land" is a tense, powerful, ironic 10, finding prickly scraps of futile humor in the devastating horror of war.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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