Cirkus Columbia is something you get when a talented, award winning author falls into a creative crisis. All the bits and pieces are there, but the final product feels like someone had a gun pointed to his head throughout the entire creative process.
The story about Danis Tanovic threatens to become a classic Welles-Citizen Kane tale, on a much smaller scale, off course. In 2001. he made his debut film No Mans Land, a winner of foreign language Oscar (beating Amelie) and numerous awards around the world. After that he did some stuff worth of a mention, including an interesting take on a Kieslowski script in Hell, but now, with this effort, he made a first total misfire in his short carrier.
The film is set in the eve of Bosnian war, as Divko Buntic (a stiff Miki Manojlovic) returns home after spending 20 years abroad. The communist regime has fallen (unofficially) and Divko uses that fact to throw his ex wife Lucija (Mira Furlan) and their son Martin (Boris Ler) out of the house they have been living in ever since he left. He moves in with his new, much younger wife Azra (Jelena Stupljanin) and beloved cat Bonny, not hiding the fact that he made quite amount of money while he was away. He soon discovers that things have substantially changed since he left. He has problems in establishing relationship with his estranged son but the real trouble begins when Bonny disappears. That urges Divko to offer a substantial award to the one who finds it. His overwhelming concern for the cat alienates Azra, who begins to feel attracted to young Martin.
Tanovic creates a believable atmosphere in the late eighties-early nineties Yugoslavia, with the fall of communism and the appearance of another, much more openly radical social order. But that's about it. The script is extremely overwritten. You have the changing of political climate; ex-husband-ex-wife showdown; father-son relation; Martin's coming of age story... Oh yes, and the missing cat as some sort of a MacGuffin! Obviously, it's too much for Tanovic to handle, as every segment of the film doesn't surpass the level of a sketch. The actors seem to try hard, but can't do much with the material this uninspiring.
Circus Colombia can not be called a glorious fall because it doesn't aim that high. That makes it just plain boring, superficial and incoherent work which can't be saved by its good intentions. Danis Tanovic is much better than this and i`m sure he will show it in the near future.