Otac na Sluzbenom Putu (When Father Was Away on Business) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Otac na Sluzbenom Putu (When Father Was Away on Business) Reviews

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½ March 9, 2015
Kusturika's highly-acclaimed comedy-drama is actually rather contrived and overlong.
½ October 31, 2014
The Cannes winner in 1985, this film tackles the toll a war takes on one family that has its own dysfunctions. A working knowledge of 20th century Yugolav history would help with comprehension, but it's still an effective story.
August 4, 2013
While this movie takes place in Yugoslavia and hints at the tension between Yugoslavia
and Russia, the story is about a family told through the eyes of a young boy. It's warm, funny, sad, and--if you can stay with reading the sub-titles--thoroughly enjoyable.
½ June 16, 2013
Can be long at times, but never dull, a story of a man punished in a society that has no care for freedom of speech.

Despite him cheating on his lovely wife every second he could, I still found the father to have mad charisma, and he was good with his children. He just seems to have no shame when cheating on the younger girls, even with a pregnant wife or with his son around.

I guess I have no idea of the politics and beliefs from where this film was set, and the time period either. Only knowing my country, some of the stuff they seem to pride themselves on as a people, well it was, odd. To think this guy would have to go to a prison like camp for not thinking a cartoon was funny is beyond me.

And the only actor I even recognized was the French Woman from LOST. She plays a bit of a trap, and has lost a good deal of weight since this film.

Another thing in this film was the child nudity. Not gonna lie, it was weird. I have never seen that much before. Maybe it's my snobby Americanism ways, but I don't want to see the genitalia of kids. Not to mention I really didn't need to see a circumcision. Maybe I'm just a prude, or not yet a parent, but it was just weird.
May 27, 2013
Another charming movie by Emir Kusturica. Whether this guy shows us the plights of an entire nation or the everyday life of a family he does it in such an entertaining way that you 'll be surely enticed for the whole movie. Here he does a little bit of both. He shows us the plights of an entire nation through the everyday life of a family. The performances are excellent with Miki Manojlovic, Mirjana Karanovic and Moreno D'E Bartolli standing out, the humour is black and always present, the direction is smooth and suits the screenplay and the musical theme is a gentle caress to our ears. An essential film.
Cinema-Maniac
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2012
I tend to read friends reviews because I always want something new experience and it helps me discover gems that I otherwise would have never seen. Which brings me here today reviewing When Father Was Away On Business and it's gonna be really hard for other Yugoslav movies out do this classic.

When Father Was Away On Business plots deals with family and political issues in post WW2. What really caught me by surprise is how invested I became with it characters that I didn't notice the political context of movie until the end of film. This film effectively illustrates the absurdity of the oppression of free speech and any system used to try and enforce it in such an effective way that it makes you think. It handles it political message very well and doesn't shove its beliefs down your throat. Mesha, played by the magnificent Miki Manojkovic, is a very dynamic character. He's a father who's very caring about his family, but has no shame about cheating on his wife. All the characters feel fleshed out and it's makes them actual people. My favorite scene, which I won't spoil for those who haven't seen it, it involve Malik losing someone he loves which I found heartwarming and tragic at the same time. When Father Was Away On Business is a rare historical movie that balances romance and politics so well anyone can get into it.

The cast played a huge role in making this good. Every part and every character was played by the right actors that it felt like I watching reality. The direction is masterful smoothly telling a story and keeping its viewer engaged. Now I notice When Father Was Away was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film and didn't win. Which have made sense if Ran had won it since it was nominated in the same category that same year, but it lost to La Historia Oficial (The Official Story). Despite not winning best picture, it's a film that truly worth that award and worth watching.

When Father When Away On Business is historical, political, and romance in a perfect combination in such a quality film. This is truly worth a watch.
January 19, 2012
Quite restrained for Kusturica. I imagine it being semi-autobiographical
½ October 31, 2011
This film is dealing with the period when Communism was introduced to Yugoslavia and show us how that affected a family living at Sarajevo. We watch the story from a young child's perspective, who's father has been imprisoned because of his political beliefs. The movie is very well structured and leaves us a sweet - bitter taste of nostalgia about Tito and that period in general, plus it analyses the family relationships and the family violence from which the characters will never escape.
September 9, 2011
I queued this because it is one of the winners of the Palme d'Or I have not yet seen, and it has been an interesting journey to see the difference between what the US thinks is a great film and what the rest of the world thinks is a great film. I don't know if "When Father Was Away on Business" is a great movie, but it is a pretty darned good one. The political situation is a main character floating in the background, and I wish I knew more about post-WWII Yugoslavia to better appreciate it.
July 13, 2011
melhor kusturica de todos.
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2011
One of my favourite movies of all times! Best Yugoslav movie ever!

Kusturica became legend with it and there is a reason why!Everything is done perfectly and there was no surprise when it won 1985 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) and the FIPRESCI Prize... I am still not sure why was nominated for the 1985 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but it did not win it... politics, maybe?

Set in post-World War II Yugoslavia during the Informbiro period, the film tells the story through the eyes of a young boy Malik. His father Mesa (played by Miki Manojlović) has been suspected of working for Cominform and sent to a labor camp after a careless remark about a political newspaper cartoon.

The movie opens in June 1950 with a local's serenading field workers. He sings Mexican songs because it's "safer", and children climb trees and play around. The story is from the perspective of the boy, Malik, whose mother Sena tells him that his father is on a business trip. Malik is a chronic sleepwalker.

After a while, Mea's wife and children rejoin him in Zvornik. Malik meets Maa, the daughter of a Russian doctor. He falls in love with her, but last sees her when the ambulance takes her away.

At the wedding of his maternal uncle Zijah, Malik witnesses his father's affair with a woman pilot. She later tries to commit suicide by using a toilet's flush cord. Sena reconciles with her brother Zijah, who's been diagnosed with diabetes.

Read that again... crazy story becomes real life, and real life becomes crazy story, and everything is so smoothly run by the Master himself: Emir Kusturica!
½ April 10, 2011
Nicole and I heard this director speak in the summer of '10 at the Alliance Française de Chicago and thought he was a fascinating thinker - that led us to watch this film. I don't know what Nicole would say but I suspect this movie is better than I thought it was (it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1985). To fully grasp the power of this family saga I'd probably have to watch it again and brush up on Baltic history and Tito's ascent to power.
½ December 26, 2010
Lovely energetic style of Emir Kusturica is at display here. Lots of stories and some great moments in this early Kusturica gem. In my opinion Emir Kusturica might be one of the best living film makers. This tragi comic tale is not as quirky as his latter films but great music.The effortlessness with which he mixes up serious stuff and fun is admirable. Need to look at his other films and try to find his biography. I want to know more about him.
May 15, 2010
Tale of a family in the backdrop of Tito led communism told by a little boy. Loved it!
April 3, 2010
Not the most characteristic of Kosturica's films, it is for me perhaps my favorite. 1948 marked the fall out between Tito and Stalin. Rather than turn it into yet another of the Warsaw block, Tito chose to make Yugoslavia a socialist country that maintained strong and active relations with the western sphere. The decision would be an altogether smart one as it would lead to the flourishing of the Yugo state in the 60s and 70s, when Yugoslavs were among the only people of Eastern Europe with the ability to travel without any visa. Yugoslavia itself entered a period of strong prosperity before its fateful demise, maintaining strong relations with the west while becoming a symbolism of Socialist success in the east and among Socialists abroad.

Still, as with most other socialist states of the time, changes in political paradigms were dangerous periods where words were carefully monitored while many of those related to the old were done away with. Yugoslav purges were relatively light in comparison to the Stalinist in the USSR or Albania, never the less, as this film shows, they could still be devastating for a family.

The film never forgets this setting, reminding us constantly of the cult of Tito and Yugoslavia through the background reporting of Yugoslavia's football success (eventually beating Russia 3-1). This positive feeling is set behind the depression and hardship endured by the family.

The story is told from the eye of the youngest son of the family, Malik, whose lecherous father, Maja, is sent to a labor camp after making a negative comment regarding a political satyr in a newspaper, denounced by his own brother-in-law. Malik is not told the reality about his father's disappearance, only that he has gone away on business, "voluntary labor" in a coal mine. After some time Malik begins to sleep walk, The family eventually follows their father at a "reeducation facility" in the town of Zvornik (made infamous in the 90s after up to a 1000 Bosnians were killed there by Serb troops). There Malik falls in love with the sick daughter of a Russian exile. The rest follows from there.

The movie is very atypical of Kosturica as it lacks some of his trademark quirkiness and supernatural aspects. The sleep walking of Malik is perhaps the greatest link to Kosturica. The rest of the develops rather slowly and somberly with plenty of darkly lite scenes, reminiscent of classical Soviet/Communist cinematography. The story seems to contrast the strong feelings and devotion Malik develops for Masha, the Russian doctors daughter, with Maja's, his father's (yea, plenty of short names with m), continuous affairs.

The film is moving and can be appreciated by anyone. The hardship and fear felt by the family is a common story in the Orwellian world of the eastern block countries. Many from eastern europe will feel plenty at home with this film, with its politicking and paranoia.
February 2, 2010
Very well done film set in the period of Tito's Yugoslavia; specifically, the period when Yugoslavia breaks away from the rest of the Iron Curtain. A family gets caught up in the turmoil of the times as the father gets sent to a labor and reeducation camp for making a careless remark about a newspaper cartoon. The title of the movie refers to the mother's euphemism for the father's detainment, when she tries to explain the father's situation to the youngest son.
January 28, 2010
Less zany than Kusturica's later films, more slow and somber. Still a good movie, though. A bit slow in the middle, maybe. It could use a little more humor and pizzazz... you can sense Kusturica's playful spirit just starting to surface around the edges.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2009
nominated for best foreign film by NBR, at the golden globes, and at the oscars
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