Vukovar | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Vukovar 

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Vukovar, a city of 50,000 overlooking the Danube, was once a jewel of Yugoslavia, a place where Serbs and Croats peacefully coexisted. But when civil strife erupted in 1991Vukovar was besieged by the Serb-dominated Yugoslavian army; two years later it was a wasteland. It's horrific destruction provides the backdrop for this 1993 feature by Boro Draskovic, who's half Bosnian and half Croat. Using real-life incidents, Draskovic has stitched together a narrative that focuses on the tribulations of newlyweds Anna, a Croat, and Toma, a Serb, who are cast as a symbolic couple. Their union offers hope; their forced separation--he's drafted to fight the Croatian militia in Vukovar--epitomizes the predicament of all ethnically mixed families. Draskovic wisely doesn't sermonize about the animosities among the ethnic factions--though the dialogue at times sounds portentous--nor does he offer solutions. Instead he conveys the bewildering madness of a late-20th-century war and its cruel impact on individual lives. Some of the battle sequences--accompanied by Mozart's Requiem on the sound track--border on surrealistic, yet a sense of bleak realism permeates the film, much of which was shot clandestinely on location as the war raged on. No doubt that's why the final lingering shot--an aerial survey of the town in ruins--is so haunting. The performances by Mirjana Jokovic and Boris Isakovic as the ill-fated couple are heartfelt and multilayered. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, May 3, 7:00 and 9:00; Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00; and Monday through Thursday, May 6 through 9, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114. --Ted Shen

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