No Man's Land | Chicago Reader

No Man's Land

85 minutes 2001

This 2001 first feature by Danis Tanovic is a rueful yet often funny account of a tense standoff between two soldiers, one a Bosnian and the other a Serb, in a Bosnian demilitarized zone in 1993. The plotting is deft and persuasive, beginning with a shockingly violent combat sequence. Tanovic then implodes that scenario, and the story suddenly turns grave and absurdist—a third man lying atop hidden explosives provides a stark and devastating symbol of the greater social, cultural, and political quagmire. The film isn't particularly distinguished visually or stylistically, though Tanovic has a shrewd grasp of tone and atmosphere. And while the war-as-insanity metaphor clearly fits the cruel, heartbreaking story, its force is undercut by a succession of character types—ambitious television journalists, outmatched UN peacekeepers, overbearing politicians. Subtitled.

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