Madness. Sheer madness. Telling the tale of some Yugoslav gun runner rebels who escape World War II by entering a bunker - and who stay underground as a resistance long after the war has ended - this is a cinematic trip and a half. It flips tragedy and comedy around in a tumble dryer, after all, the characters are not just losing their soul, but their mind. It's black surreal comedy with a dash of despondent screwball lunacy, populated by a downtrodden cast of characters who know their entire world is coming loose at the hinges, literally surrounded by animals, in one scene reduced to screaming like them in the dark. There's slapstick and a fleet-of-foot tone, but any lightness ultimately can only be attributed to the feeling of a nervous breakdown. The actors have supreme awareness of the dynamics required, and carry this deranged clown car of a film right up until the poignant ending where fantasy collides with reality again,
during the Yugoslav wars of the 90s Sure, war is hell, but hell has room for those too crazy to be monsters. I particularly loved the central character crashing in upon the filming of his own biography - and the hilarious meta-instances of one particular character's 'refusal to die'.
It takes a lot of bravery to take such an angle on your countries' history, but I was transfixed throughout a near 3 hour running time. Watch it or you'll be 'always hanging yourself'. Oh, and I can't leave without mentioning the amazing score - or the pet chimp.