52nd Chicago International Film Festival Screening #5: “Ministry of Love” (Croatia)

“Ministry of Love” (Croatia)
Directed by Pavo Marinkovic

photo-47“Ministry of Love”, a post-Balkan War comedy from Croatia, is occasionally quite funny, poignant less often, and, alas, ultimately not terribly satisfying.

Revolving around the adventures of a biologist turned governmental minister whose job it is to gauge if war widows are still technically “single”, thus still rightfully due a pension, the script takes full comic advantage of the ensuing situations. And when it sticks to this scenario, it plays as a successful buddy-buddy, on-the-road picture. Unfortunately, the script bogs down when delving in to his family life – leading to an act three conclusion that is both out of character for our hero and brutally predictable (even if the coda that follows is quite charming).

This script squabble, however, in no way takes away from the performances, which are terrific. Stjepan Peric is perfect in the role of accidental bureaucrat. His face is disarming, his demeanor is charming, and he has no trouble playing both sides of the story’s emotional planes. I hope we see more of him. Perhaps this film will place him on the big screen more often, as his resume seems to be made up almost entirely of Croat television appearances. His partner, the hilarious, and forever-eating, Dražen Kühn, is a perfect choice as the straight man to Peric. A delight.

Finally, the music, composed by Hrvoje Crnić Boxer & Mydy Rabycad, proves, once again,that some of the best film music comes from the most far away places. An excellent score, adding to both the charm and the betrayal of the film’s journey.

This is not a bad film. Not at all. It’s a terrific concept with an excellent cast and a lot of laughs. But, there are just a few too many cooks in the plot for it to add up (kind of like that metaphoric jambalaya).

Written on 10/18/2016

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