The President has a stroke at a dinner party. He is cured by a waiter endowed with supernatural powers. One year later, we find the miracle-worker and his son on a picture-postcard Croatian island, where they plan to build the temple of business of their own. The islanders are, to say the least, peculiar. The local baker, a mother of six who is shunned by the community, turns out to be especially so for the shy youngster... Written by
Milan F. Zivkovic
Serbedzia... ...oh, yes, some other people appear as well...
Settled on a non-existing Adriatic island (but definitely in Croatia) and not mentioning the time (but definitely in early 2000's) with unreal politicians on screen (but mentioning real politicians from history) "Pravo cudo" is an unusually coherent, logical Croatian movie with an ending that is, unlike average Croatian movie, also logical and fitting the story and the genre.
Stories about preachers and healers, outcasts from official religions, are nothing new in world cinematography, though Croatian authors have never focused it so far. However, Toma, the hero of "Pravo cudo" is not a typical one. He has a gift (and this movie has some fantastic elements) to heal people, but he never pretends to be a saint. This gift enables him to earn enough money for him and his son, enables him a life style that surely won't remind us on saints, but he sometimes finds this gift being a burden. He doesn't pretend to be a prophet, a God's messenger, but he knows that his gift is given by a superior being, therefore he is not allowed to ignore or abuse it. So he isn't a cheater as most movie (and most real) healers and preachers are; but it is not easy to balance between demands of soul and demands of flesh.
Rade Serbedzija is a perfect choice for this role. Unlike another Croatian international star Goran Visnjic he was a famous local actor before appearing in foreign productions, and this reputation with sparkles of international success gave him a special status in small Croatian cinematography. He can play anything and just his name will make a movie almost untouchable, unquestionable. It can be compared to de Niro's status in USA. And, as de Niro does, Serbedzija gives his best in return, even when the movie isn't exceptional and role not an inspiration, he will be high above its level.
It's really hard to imagine anybody doing a better job as a tired old man, torn between human, carnal pleasures and gift given from above, followed by fame that gives him opportunities and by his vices that destroy them. Unfortunately, though Croatia never had a lack of talented actors, the casting in supporting roles managed to avoid them. So, as Toma is a God's gift to Adriatic island, Serbedzia is a God's gift for this movie.
Unlike majority of Croatian movies whose problems usually start with screenplay, this is one of the best stories, and among the highlights of the movie is the photography focused on characters and plot, using nature as the integral part of the story avoiding the trap of picture postcard type of advertising that frequently ruin the balance of the movies (probably when local tourist offices appear as co-producers).
Mostly because of unusual character created both by good script and magnificent performance, this movie should be watched. Mostly, but not limited to...
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