A mild-mannered dreamer’s absurd plan to spur tourism in his dying village goes spectacularly awry in Darko Lungulov’s Monument to Michael Jackson, an endearing tragicomedy that mixes caustic Eastern European humour with sharp social commentary.

In a dusty village in rural Serbia, circa 2009, the local council finally gets around to removing a communistera statue from the central square. Across the square works local barber Marko (Boris Milivojevic), a poetic dreamer whose flights of fancy once earned him the love of Ljubinka (Nataša Tapuškovic). But Marko’s perpetual optimism led Ljubinka to leave him. More than anything, Marko longs to win her back. When Marko hears that Michael Jackson is preparing a farewell tour, he hits upon a hare-brained scheme that could bring his home town back to life and elevate his stature in his wife’s eyes…

This quirky setup serves as a platform for Lungulov to deal with difficult contemporary issues in a subtle, humorous way. Lungulov’s crack cast of local names supplies comic verve as well as touching melancholy.

Alissa Simon


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