Writer/director Emir Kusturica's first fictional film in six years turns out to be one of the Balkan filmmaker's typically frenetic and grating affairs, in which the recent war in the former Yugoslavia gets dubiously replayed as a lusty farce. Slavko Stimac plays naive Serbian railway engineer Luka, who falls for the pretty blonde Muslim hostage Sabaha (Natasa Solak), whom the authorities are trying to exchange in a prisoner swap for his son Milos (Vuk Kostic).
With his No Smoking brass band orchestra providing a manic musical accompaniment, Kusturica chucks all sorts of ingredients into the mix without ever pausing for breath. There are flying beds, guardian angel donkeys who defy runaway trains, naked lovers tumbling down hillsides, and fat cat businessmen hoovering up cocaine off railway tracks. Conveniently it's these grotesque capitalist figures who are blamed for the war, and who are contrasted with the decency of the 'good' military officer represented by Kusturica's son Stribor.
"INTERMINABLY NOISY AND CHAOTIC"
Perhaps the film would have packed a greater dramatic punch if Luka's wife Jadranka (Vesna Trivalic), the highly-strung opera singer who runs off with a Hungarian, had been less of an irritant: where's the real dilemma in our hero having to choose between her and Sabaha? And don't be surprised by the gag borrowed from Amarcord, involving young men urinating onto an unsuspecting individual through a series of funnels and tubes. Because the overlong Life Is A Miracle is very much a vision of the world as one interminably noisy and chaotic Fellini film.
In Serbian with English subtitles.