Dir: Bohdan Slama. Czech-Ger-Fr. 2008. 113mins.
A bittersweet comedy about a gay teacher hiding out in a country school, Bohdan Slama’s follow-up to his award-winning Something Like Happiness feels slightly old-fashioned, going over ground that has already been dealt with in other films. The kind of gay film that will play better to straight audiences, it may be more likely to draw attention in East European territories rather than the Western markets.
Young teacher Peter (Liska) arrives in a small village to take up a post in the local school. The school principal suspects something’s up as no qualified professional would accept such a minor position without a good reason. Indeed, Peter has just recently come out and has run away to the countryside to escape.
But his plans to disappear go awry when an ex-boyfriend arrives and tries to get him into bed. He then proceeds in disrupting Peter’s quietly organised life by running off with the girlfriend of 17-year-old Lada (Sedivy) whom Peter secretly loves and whose widowed mother Marie (Bydzovska) has been making unsuccessful advances towards Peter. A desperate Lada gets drunk, falls into a river and is rescued by Peter who tries to seduce him while he’s asleep. Lada wakes up, throws a fit and tells his mother. Terrified that he will be run out of the village, Peter tries to take his own life but is saved by Marie. It all ends with reconciliation all round and everyone learning to live and let live.
Although events seem to more accidental than intentional, the irony of the situations is bracing and Slama has created characters that are quite moving. As the introverted Peter, Liska perfectly conveys his interior struggle with his urges as he gazes lovingly upon the sleeping Lada. Bydzovska as the tough fortysomething farmer Marie is a tonic, a rough woman concealing her need for solace. The rest of the cast is okay, hamming it up to fit in with the folksy mood.
The film makes good use of the picturesque locations.
Why Not Productions
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