Trapped in a foxhole, a Bosnian and a Serbian establish a truce when they discover a wounded trooper is lying on an unexploded mine. However, the dangerous situation becomes increasingly tense with the arrival of the U.N. and the media.
This may not be the subtlest cinematic denunciation of warfare, but sometimes it becomes necessary to state the obvious. The protagonists in Danis Tanovic's debut feature border on caricature. But that's what patriotism does to people - no matter what cause they espouse.
Bosnian Djuric and Serb Bitorajac (whose transformation from snivelling rookie to racist thug would not have been out of place in The Experiment) may be cartoonish in their actions and attitudes. Yet their imperilled passion contrasts sharply with the helpless humanism of French captain Siatidis, and the swaggering indifference of UNPROFOR bigwig Simon Callow, more interested in supplying telejournalist Katrin Cartlidge with an apposite soundbite than keeping the peace.
As in most Balkan war movies, the darkness of the gallows humour enables the director to shroud his own political affiliations (for the record, Tanovic is Bosnian). But no-one emerges from this excruciating farce unscathed.
Occasionally bombastic, but always acute, this Oscar-winner is a compassionate dissection of a pitiless conflict.