This Croatian import from 2005 is a well handled debut from director Arsen Anton Ostojic. The film's promoters seemed to want to tout it as a Tarantinoesque thriller, where all of a city's underbelly is exposed in one seemingly endless night. And don't get me wrong, that isn't a bad description, but I felt that, like most true pieces of art-house cinema, it's best to watch without expectation and let the film absorb you. This is something that Ostojic seems both suited to and qualified for. Straight away the audience dives or is driven, depending on your sensibilities, deep into the heart of this medieval Central European city on a modern New Years eve. Using relatively simple black and white photography Ostojic and his crew show us an enviroment of tight back alleys, dingy bars, seedy inns, and a town square brimming with citizens for midnight concert. The later serves as the esential base of the film where all major characters pass through or connect, all be it unwittingly, as they traverse the live and animated city. It is in these moments that we realize just how small Split really is and credit to Ostojic, who if it weren't for these moments unfamiliar audiences would think the setting was Budapest or Warsaw and it's the quaintness of the eerie town that gives it it's charm.
As for the plot I'm afraid, again as most true pieces of art-house cinema, to give away a little is to give away a lot. The general idea is that the film is split (pun intended) into three points of view, that of course criss-cross and overlap throughout. The major characters include a two-bit hood who has fallen into a drug trafficer's plot (the most thirlling aspect in this reviewer's mind). A young girl with an obvious heroin problem who seems quite new to her path in life, only upping her character's sense of desperation. And the last being two young lovers trying to find a place for quiet carnal relations (suprisingly enough the least interesting portion of the picture for myself). There are also bar maids, transients (including a homeless junkie who has some of the film's best lines) and a roving trio of American Navy sailors, two of which are looking for a young girl for one of they're down and out friends, puzzlingly played by Coolio (Yes! That Coolio) who preforms even worse than expected.
A surrealistic third act turn makes a Wonderful Night In Split a stylish and unique film the likes of wich most first time filmmakers would be proud of. Although the film isn't perfect by any means, it is a picture with a beating heart, that serves up an enjoyable slice of Central European cinema.