on August 22, 2003 by Barbara Goslawski
Seven years after his stunning debut film, "After The Rain," Macedonian filmmaker Milcho Manchevski returns with the even more ambitious "Dust." The film is a combination inner-city crime drama and classic Western. While Manchevski exhibits the same ability to intertwine seemingly unrelated elements, in this film he fails to mesh its two stories in any satisfactory manner. The two eras presented in this film may display similar violent dispositions but ultimately their overriding sensibilities are just too different to integrate.

"Dust" is the story of a feisty elderly woman, Angela, who holds a would-be robber hostage in her apartment. The old photographs he has so carelessly strewn about spark long-buried memories of two brothers, Luke and Elijah, raised in the wild west.

Angela's struggle with her hostage becomes a familiar tale of stubborn souls who eventually come to respect and even like each other. In Luke and Elijah's story, on the other hand, the brothers who sever their ties fighting over a woman never do come to see eye to eye. Manchevski, however, is more concerned with the larger implications of their tale.

As Luke escapes to the wild frontiers of Macedonia, Manchevski skews his Western toward a historical account. He is, in fact, commenting on recent events in the former Yugoslavia. Eventually, the two brothers become embroiled in Macedonia's battles with the invading Turks, and Manchevski hammers home the point of the film by creating some of the goriest fight scenes since Sam Peckinpah.

"Dust" remains split between two distinct genres, each captured almost too perfectly by its maker. At first, the violence and extreme tension between the fiery-tempered characters in the present mirrors the sensibilities of the Western tale. As their passions mellow, however, and the battles in the past become bloodier, the transitions and echoes simply become more jarring and problematic. Starring Joseph Fiennes, David Wenham, Anne Brochet and Adrian Lester. Directed and written by Milcho Manchevski. Produced by Chris Auty, Vesna Jovanoska and Domenico Procacci. A Lions Gate release. Drama/Western. Rated R for sequences of strong violence, sexual content and language. Running time: 122 min

Tags: Joseph Fiennes, David Wenham, Anne Brochet, Adrian Lester, Milcho Manchevski. Produced by Chris Auty, Vesna Jovanoska and Domenico Procacci. A Lions Gate release. Drama/Western

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