Waiting for the blow

No Man’s Land
Starring Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Sovagovic, and Katrin Cartlidge. Directed by Danis Tanovic. Rated R.
Rated 3.0 A Bosnian and a Serb are trapped together in a trench during the war in Bosnia. They’d both like to kill each other, but for the moment they’d prefer help from the UN forces because the only other living person in the trench, a wounded Bosnian, is lying on top of a booby-trapped landmine.

If he moves, they’ll all be blown to bits.

Danis Tanovic’s dark-humored fable, winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, is both topical and entertaining. But whether it does its subject justice, with or without entertainment, is open to question. As an absurdist comedy on the futility of this particular war, it may be a little too comfortable in both its amusements and its ironies.

Having a Bosnian and a Serb play out a de-Yugoslavized version of Waiting for Godot is an ingenious notion. But the satirical dimensions provided via a UN commander/peace-keeper (Simon Callow) and a hotshot cable news correspondent (Katrin Cartlidge) nudge No Man’s Land toward the detached caricatures of sketch comedy TV and editorial cartoons. Tragicomedy is apt, but not when it’s this painless.