Montenegro (1981)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Sex Comedy, Political Satire  |   Release Date - Nov 8, 1981 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, Sweden  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Nathan Southern

Dusan Makavejev's mordantly hilarious, pitch-black treatise on domestic psychosis looks better with each passing year. Written and directed amid the filmmaker's decades-long transition from film essay to standard feature, Montenegro retains the fresh comic rhythms, blithe raunchiness, and unpredictability of WR and Sweet Movie yet manages to seamlessly blend those elements into a traditional Western narrative without descending into the journeyman Hollywood morass of The Coca-Cola Kid. Makavejev is perhaps slyest for playfully suspending his audience between interpretations, and thus treading a razor-thin line. He consistently refuses to interpret housewife Marilyn Jordan's "journey" as a descent into insanity or a full political and sexual liberation. Although the picture's message becomes resoundingly clear when one juxtaposes the metaphoric prologue (and the symbolism of the Montenegro character) with the macabre conclusion, Makavejev gleefully and mischievously toys with the audience in the interim. The director makes oddball choices throughout, packing his frame with idiosyncratic characters (such as the grandfather with Buffalo Bill delusions) and bizarre, occasionally randy situations; none lack payoffs. He also reveals a flair for skillfully melding the absurdly comic with humor so deadpan that it risks initially going unnoticed, and somehow manages to carry one of the most eccentric and unusual sexual acts in a mainstream feature film into the realm of the sublimely erotic.