Film & TV

BFI LFF Review: On the Milky Road

On the Milky Road

On the Milky Road (Na Mlječnom Putu) dir. Emir Kusturica – Serbia

On the Milky Road (Na Mlječnom Putu) is a metaphorical film about love and war directed by the internationally recognised, Serbian filmmaker and actor: Emir Kusturica. The film, with a folkloresque essence, tells the story of Kosta (also played by Kusturica), a war-touched, humble and poetic protagonist who works as a milkman in a remote Balkan village periodically touched by the raging civil war.

On the Milky Road

Kosta is a unique character, almost like one from Aesop’s fables, constantly riding on his donkey and having a unique friendship with a hawk he unknowingly managed to tame. Musically talented, he catches the eye of the two main female characters, including the young and exuberant Serbian beauty, Milena, who is due to marry him, and a mysterious Serbian-Italian woman taken from the Displaced Persons’ Centre and whose name is anonymous throughout the film, despite being the leading female role, played by Italian actress, Monica Bellucci. Kosta is due to marry Milena at the same time her war-hero brother returns home who is supposed to marry the Serbian-Italian woman…until tragedy strikes, and both Kosta and the Italian woman are forced to flee …It’s at this stage of the film, we see Kusturica’s touch of magical realism with the Serbian-Italian woman and Kosta soaring up from their hiding spot in the trees and into the sky and his pet familiars (including his hawk) coming to help at critical moments in the film when they are being chased by special forces.

The film is unique in its originality, depicting the kind of rambunctious parties and dark humour that is endemic to the Balkans. All this is set against the backdrop of the horrific, bloody civil war that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the beginning of the 1990s. On the Milky Road will make you laugh, ponder and cry and wonder about the strength of human perseverance during such a tragic time.

Sanja Dragojlov