The most interesting moments in “Gipsy Magic” are the fascinating glimpses provided of life in modern-day Macedonia, but the story is scattershot, the central character is an unpleasant boor, and helmer Stole Popov takes way too long to wend his way through this strange tale. It’s a fest item at best.
Taip (Miki Manojlovic) is a gypsy of East Indian origin who befriends Riju (Antony Zaki), a U.N. peacekeeper in Macedonia, and brings him to meet his family, who are living in squalor and near-starvation.
Then Taip’s mother dies and the family starts freaking out, particularly Taip. After he and his son Bairam (Bajram Severgan) collect the government money for the funeral, the grief-stricken clan makes a sudden shift into party mode, using the cash to throw a major bash. In the midst of the jamboree, Grandma comes back to life, which comes as something of a shock to everyone. But Taip is adamant that his mother’s miraculous recovery remain a secret, in order to ensure that they don’t have to pay back the funeral dough.
Figuring he’s on to a good scam here, Taip pretends that his wife has died so he can collect the state money. Next, he fakes the death of son Shakir (Goran Dodevski), and pretty soon he has arranged phony deaths for half his family.
Pic’s style stumbles back and forth between brutal cinema verite and wild magical realism, and film is way too long. Nor does it help that Taip is simply an unpleasant character who will not elicit sympathy or interest from most auds.
Lensing captures the wretched conditions of the Macedonian slums, and the music soundtrack is heavy on Asian-flavored selections.