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It’s safe to say I’ve never seen a film that had so much bestiality — in a funny way, of course, as Zavet (which means “The Promise” in Serbo-Croatian) is more screwball comedy than anything else. It’s also a statement by the former Yugoslavia’s most prominent film maker (Emir Kusturica, who is quite popular in France) about globalization, the westernization of Eastern Europe, and a country boy’s coming-of-age journey to the big city. But as I said, it’s a screwball comedy first and foremost and features, among other things, an endless array of trap doors and pulleys, a local government official persistently wooing a buxom villager in a succession of funky old cars, and a man shot out of a cannon who never lands.
Of course, of all these things, you can prolly guess that the story revolves around the country boy’s coming-of-age. Briefly, the story sets up thusly: Young Tsane lives in the Balkan countryside with his eccentric grandfather and a handful of other village characters. Their buxom neighbor is the schoolmarm in the one-room schoolhouse, in which Tsane is the only student. One day Grandpa decides that it’s time for Tsane to come of age, so he gives him the family cow and instructs him to cross the hills to the nearest city and sell it. Tsane is also instructed use the proceeds to collect a souvenir, an icon, and a wife to bring back to the village. Once he gets to the city, the object of his affection quickly becomes the babe-a-licious Jasna (Marija Petronijevic) but luckily for us the two of them must first endure a surreal odyssey — including small-time gangsters, an old-timey whorehouse, non-stop gunplay, a bumpy ride in the trunk of an old Lada, a pair of bald, boisterous twins (one 6’6″, the other 4’5″) who dress alike and share a passion for imploding buildings, and yes, plenty of bestiality — before they can get back to the village and up to the altar. One emerges from the theatre baffled, light-headed, and laughing out loud.