Monday, June 15, 2009

"Up and Down" (Language - Czech) (2004) - Movie Review

“Up and Down” is a comedy where the troubles are real. The people in it are funny but their pains is every one’s. A film running through series of characters in a modern Czech overflowing with immigrants, legal and illegal, “Up and Down” keeps itself off the balance and hence provide something unfulfilling yet a serious good time watching it. Its people are petty thieves, long returning son, a dying father, a disgruntled lonely mother, a curious sister, a wife unknown of her future, a woman longing for a baby with her reforming football fanatic husband and of course the misplaced baby in the human smuggling of illegal immigrants.

The compressed globe has mingled the world. The unseeable distances are few hours now while the few miles are several hours. And in those waiting frustrating times every country person see at least three to four people of different country. It is a change like any other. The TV serials and sitcoms now have a rule of three ethnicity based characters. They are not stereotypes but a representation of this intertwined diverse place. It is encouraging but as human’s fundamental emotion of territorial belonging, it is a challenge to go against it.

Vera is a mother (Emília Vásáryová) who sees her son after twenty years, Martin (Petr Forman). He left when his father Otto (Jan Triska) went for another woman Hana (Ingrid Timková). Otto requires a surgery that could eat up his life and he invites his wife and son for a lunch like no other. Vera is mad. I mean if you could put together the bitterness and the underlying punching innuendos of the planet’s entire women population, then she would do full justice to that count with sadness, wrath and rage in equal dangerous amounts. Emília spits venom and we hate her for the uncivilized and boorish attitude on a reunion. Then she comes out as Martin follows to talk with her. She erupts and stands in the agony of twenty years of being left alone and no one to care for her. She sent Martin for his own good but she is disappointed that he never returned for her. And when she sees Lenka having her life, she cannot tolerate it.

In that scene Vera mocks and groans out of the inequality the country has put through and Lenka being the refugee personnel, it only gets worse. How a person takes the social situation in to their personal disaster is a mirror to every one cribbing about the social inefficiency used as an anger cushion. Vera is one such. Martin is a returning man seeing the life he left behind. He sees his mom who is unchanged in her humour but a different personality in other territories. He sees his lost love and new acceptance from a dad who has seen him as a disappointment in the past. Their story is a crucial commentary of the social system of the city and a family. It is controversial and questionable but works in its own way.

Around these are Mila (Natasa Burger) and Frantisek (Jirí Machácek), a couple living in low income and making their tiny family with a happiness they could afford. Frantisek is a security for a theme park. He is recovering from a football fanatic past which has stained his criminal record. Mila wants a child and she could not. Frantisek’s past denies their chance for adoption and Mila is desperate for a baby. Frantisek is clay model who can be pushed for anything. Mila has successfully kept him away from the dreaded influence of Colonel (Jaroslav Dusek), another super crazy fan trying to bully his buddy back to the field. Their story is the comedy ending in a tragedy we would not expect.

“Up and Down” is not an impressive film but something away from the ordinary. It is truthful in its characters and honest in the situations. Director Jan Hrebejk connects these people but not for an end or the fate of coincidences. He simply dissects the society the country currently is in. This is not a scale model of it but a depiction of the people affected by the change they perceive in several way which align similar as any other nation going through such a process. It travels from a certain point to another and does not pose a solution or a finish. It is a story of multitude of emotion which waves through it and makes to smile and then feel sad too.

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