The film Cowboys is a comedy based on a Croatian hit theater play. It is a story of eight outsiders who are trying to create a theater play while breaking every rule of theater craft. Genre-wise Cowboys are between social drama and comedy with emphasis on clear stories and functionally profiled characters. The story takes place in a little industrial town, small and claustrophobic enough to make life in it impossible, and yet big and diverse enough to make the story and the characters convincing. SOMETIME LIFE CAN BE BORING, BUT WESTERN NEVER!
Official submission of Croatia to the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards 2015. See more »
John Wayne is turning in his grave with laughter!
Rating: 8,5/10 review by Vanja Runjic
The story of the movie Cowboys is not just a story of good and evil, as the movie heroes identify the main dramatic axis of the western as a genre, but also a story of high art and low populism - although some high-brow film critics would say that is basically the same thing. Cowboys are based on a hit theater show that was seen by well over 100.000 viewers (some say even 150.000), proving that an art experiment need not necessarily be abstract, hermetic and addressed to narrow elitist circles. However, one need not see the theater show to enjoy the movie. In fact, it might be quite refreshing to see it without preconceptions. A gloomy middle-aged theater director Sasha (Sasa Anocic) returns to his home town, even gloomier industrial province, where an old friend, the local mayor (Niksa Butijer) convinces him to put on a theater show with a group of amateurs. A group of weirdoes and bizarre looking types arrives for the audition, none of them having any acting or theater experience whatsoever, and the disillusioned director ends up taking them all. From the first shots we are aware of all the fullmonthy and other underdog clichés, but instead of seeing them as a potential flaw, surprisingly they turn out to be one of the best qualities of this movie. Considering that everything has already been said in film (and music) and it is not easy to be original, especially on such slippery ground as with popular comedy, I have to point out the work of the director and scriptwriter Tomislav Mrsic, acclaimed documentarist, who has managed to use all the character, situational and dramatic clichés in such a way that the viewer doesn't feel annoyed by the fact that they have all been seen. Which is a good feeling! The movie Cowboys is an ensemble comedy, and it's all about the roles they play – even if there were only two or three great actors, it would be a success. Mrsic was lucky in that regard, mostly thanks to the fact that he used the same cast as in the theater show. There is the dumb Domagoj (the incredible Zivko Anocic), who remains a mystery until the end: is he a complete idiot, mentally challenged, or both, or is he just pretending? Then, the friendly gypsy Miodrag (played by the equally great Rakan Rushaidat); the postman Javor, an annoying wannabe actor, busy bee and mama's boy played by Hrvoje Barisic, a pleasant surprise. I can only imagine how irritable he could get if directed by such masters of annoyance like Gervais, Merchant or Larry David, but Mrsic manages to keep him likable. That is the main forte and the charm of this movie – a feel good atmosphere, light humor, discreet pathos, free of any presumptuousness. Not to mention the grand finale. Comedy is a tricky business, especially when it aims to appeal to the masses. Anybody can make some drunken friends laugh, but big audiences are tough, and critics even tougher. Mrsic and Cowboys did it, and the fact that they reached their goal without over psychologizing the characters or overdramatizing and by using a bunch of commonplace devices, makes their triumph even greater
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