When the Dead Start Singing

To call it a black comedy would be too easy, though this finely toned drama set in 1991 combines the morbid and the slapstick, the depressing and the ironic. Its pace is uncanny—events seem to unfold both rapidly and in slow motion, beginning with a demoralized Croatian emigre's encounter with a ghostly chorus of former countrymen. Perplexed, he stumbles into a situation that's part conspiracy thriller, part parody: his Berlin flatmate intends to pose as a corpse and be sent back in a coffin to their homeland, where he'll share the pension his “widow” will get. But the doctor who's forged the death certificate has other plans, having sold the man's organs to an ailing mafioso. Resolving this subplot surprisingly early, the story line continues to twitch like a snake, finally eating its own tail. Based on a play by Mate Matisic, who wrote the screenplay with director Krsto Papic; with Ivo Gregurevic and Ivica Vidovic. 104 min.

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