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Pretty Village, Pretty Flame Review

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Soldiers in a Bosnian army hospital recount their youth and pre-war lives in a series of flashbacks.

★★★★

If you didn't watch the news during the Bosnian War. Or read the papers. Or perhaps didn't understand the conflict and don't really want to spend time reading a review about another Bosnian War film... it's enough to know that this one has plenty of action, a witty script, buckets of blood, a couple of sex scenes and is pretty darned good.

On the other hand, those who don't have the willpower to resist knowing more should consider this: Martin Bell, the celebrated Bosnian War journalist, has recently lambasted the makers of Welcome To Sarajevo for celebrating war journalists. Confusing. Consider also that the makers of Pretty Village were filming as the conflict raged through the backyards of Europe and found everyone they met - Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Turks - to be equally confused.

What is crystal clear is that this film is a work of pure brilliance. Shot in flashback, it traces the Serb Milan (Bjelogrlic) from his hospital bed to the deserted tunnel which his childhood friend Halil (Pejakovic), a muslim, had trapped him in during the conflict. Throughout the siege director Dragojevic intercuts these horrendous scenes with snippets from the men's idyllic childhood which only serve to compliment the utter insanity of a country torn in two halves.

Visually the film is astounding, with Dragojevic giving the austere topic some masterful editing and flourishing camera swings. There are also some vintage sequences; a peace corps chanting Give Peace A Chance outside a war hospital; a hilarious sex scene climaxing with the news of Tito's death; a communal urine-drinking contest to stay alive. Perhaps not the best film to see the new year in with, but for those with curiosity these images will stick in your mind like a pickaxe.

A work of pure brilliane. Visually astounding and thought provoking.

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