Director/writer/star Emir Kusturica demands attention from the opening frames of On the Milky Road through his stylistic idiosyncrasies. Snakes drink milk and clocks bite people in his war-torn world.
With his trademark surrealism that mixes humour and drama, Kustrica conjures a world of quirky wonder where villagers live under the shadow of death. The party scenes are brimming with life, and the characters that populate them are loveable eccentrics.
Their world is disrupted when Monica Bellucci’s Bride arrives to wed the local hero, a British General and former lover is out for revenge, and she’s fallen in love with Kosta (Kusturica), the local milkman.
Unfortunately, it becomes clear that style is the glue which holds On the Milky Road together. Once the main plot kicks off much of the cast is pushed to the side-lines. This leaves the central romance between Kosta and the Bride to do all of the heavy lifting; something it fails at.
Part of this down to a distinct lack of chemistry between Kusturica and Bellucci, so it’s difficult to care about their predicament. Much of their charm came from their interactions with the now absent supporting cast.
Another reason why this later section doesn’t work is that with its stripped down style, much of the surreal pleasures are also missing. There are moments here and there, such as a finale involving a mine field and a flock of sheep. Otherwise, a lot of the scenes feel lacking in comparison to the furious creative energy of previous sequences.
It’s worth reiterating how good that first hour is, as it entertains and surprises in equal measure. While a weaker second half doesn’t diminish what came before, it’s abrupt change in style and form does make it difficult to revisit this Milky Road.
CAST: Monica Bellucci, Emir Kusturica, Sergej Trifunovic, Predrag Manojlovic
DIRECTOR: Emir Kusturica
WRITER: Emir Kusturica
SYNOPSIS: A story that stretches across war, blossoming love and living as a recluse.