Life Is A Miracle = Life Is Bloody Loud. There is nothing meaningful in this Bosnia/Serbian satire that is not also accompanied by a cacophonous Wurlitzer soundtrack, a bit of the ultra-violence and some farting. Initially this is rather refreshingly energetic, but relentless energy soon wears you down and at one hundred and sixty minutes this is enough energy to power all of former Yugoslavia.

What also does not help is that this is actually two films stuck together. The first hour is a de facto musical, where the unhappy family are rooting for their son to get called up for a national football team whilst finally finishing the railway the husband works on. And then suddenly, the war starts, the son is conscripted, the opera singer wife legs it and we are thrust into a Romeo & Juliet situation between the husband and an attractive prisoner of war. The second half is much better than the first, possibly because it is a plot that is almost impossible to fuck up. That and the removal of most of the intensely annoying characters from the first half (namely the opera singing wife who seems to be constantly channelling all five of the Three Stooges). Unnervingly domestically violent in places, Life Is A Miracle is nevertheless terrifically entertaining in these latter stages: if your stamina holds out.

It is an interesting break from standard cinematic convention nevertheless which follows Emil Kustarica’s previous films Underground and Black Cat, White Cat. Hi-energy screwball farce is just plain difficult to do well, and no matter how well it is done here there is too much of it. Shave off the first hour with its football match and party set pieces and you have a much smaller, much more focussed ultra-loud screwball farce. It has been a while since I have been so exhausted in a cinema (well, Casshern, but that is a different kind of exhaustion).