Czech Film Review: Želary 2003

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By Lee Robert Adams | Prague Every day Monitor |

5 August 2020

As sturdy and reliable as its rugged leading man, György Cserhalmi, Želary is an aesthetic wartime romantic drama that scored an Academy Award nomination for Greatest Overseas Language Film in 2004. Whereas the story suffers from over-familiarity, the movie earns its emotional payoff because of robust performances by a superb forged and considerate path by Ondřej Trojan.

The movie opens in 1940s Nazi-occupied Prague as dapper surgeon Richard (Trojan) and his nurse/lover Eliška (Anna Geislerová) respond to an emergency name to save lots of a significantly injured man. The patient requires an pressing transfusion and Eliška unquestioningly provides the much-needed blood.

Richard and Eliška are additionally a part of the resistance, and when her try and run a message to a contact falls foul of the Gestapo, the whole community is out of the blue in mortal danger. Richard rapidly emigrates, leaving Eliška with cast papers, and a pal tells her that if she needs to escape detection she should assume a brand new id and depart the town in the company of Joza (Cserhalmi), the person whose life she helped save.

The pair journey throughout the nation to the tiny hamlet of Želary, where Eliška (now Hana) must marry Joza to finish the ruse. Hana is resistant at first, initially distrustful of the hulking, quietly spoken mountain man. Her new surroundings are a world away from her earlier urbane life within the capital, especially when she takes up residence in Joza's rough-hewn log cabin - without electricity, operating water, or even a flooring to the hut, she's completely depressing.

Haughty and slight, together with her truthful hair and alabaster skin, city woman Hana attracts suspicion and contempt from the rustic locals. We meet a kindly priest, performed by the redoubtable Miroslav Donutil; his counterpart within the film, Tkáč, the strict village schoolmaster (Jaroslav Dušek in a sometimes wormy, untrustworthy efficiency). There's additionally the group's salty, outspoken midwife Lucka (Jaroslava Adamová, making a vivid impression) and Žeňa (Iva Bittová), a younger widow who ultimately befriends our heroine. A subplot includes an urchin-like younger lad referred to as Lipka (Tomás Zatecka) and his drunken, abusive stepfather Michal (Ondřej Koval), who dangerously lusts after Hana at first sight.

A lot of what transpires after Hana reluctantly marries her saviour will not come as a shock, and at two and a half hours, Želary positive takes its time arriving where most viewers will anticipate. Stunningly shot within the Malá Fatra mountains of Slovakia, the movie is usually rapturous concerning the natural great thing about Hana's new surroundings, and the splendour of the surroundings provides an otherwise intimate story a far more epic scope. It's only a question of when - fairly than if - Hana will fall in love together with her new life, and her clearly noble and hunky husband.

Like the much more light-hearted Barefoot, the horrors of warfare appear very distant from Hana's remote hillside refuge, although hazard and tragedy all the time stalk the narrative. When the opposite shoe drops, albeit it from a extra sudden course from the one originally set out, the ultimate act is undeniably upsetting and rousing in equal measure.

Key to the movie's success is the robust performances throughout. Cserhalmi, Geislerová, Donutil, Dušek and Adamová actually sell this story with some very dignified characterisations, which helps soften the predictability of the eventual consequence. If the movie has a serious flaw, it is that it suffers from a surfeit of thinly drawn secondary characters who're out of the blue thrust into the limelight through the third act. In consequence, we're stuck making an attempt to determine who's who once we ought to be getting pleasurably harrowed by the film's business end.

It's August 3rd 2020 and it is completely bucketing down outdoors as I am scripting this assessment. It happens to me that on days like this once I was rising up, my mother and father and grandparents would typically quiet down in entrance of the field to observe an enormous wartime film like The Bridge on the River Kwai or The Great Escape. Like these films, Želary is fascinating in its familiarity - it seems like a movie I've seen five occasions already. It in all probability will not shock you, however until you are utterly lifeless inside, it virtually definitely will move you.

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