Dir. Martin Sulik. CzRep-Slovak. 2005. 99mins.
At the start Martin Sulik's feature about four unemployedCzech men promises some sort of a social comment on the collapse of EastEuropean industry, with its images of violent clashes between management and redundantworkers.
But before long The CityOf The Sun settles into the predictable patterns of a stereotypical FullMonty-style blue-collar comedy: good-humoured and lively, but careful notto penetrate too deep under the skin.
A success at home - it tookthe Golden Kingfisher award at the Finale Pilsen - The City Of The Sunshould enjoy good returns in Eastern Europe. But it is too far removed from themagical tongue-in-cheek humour exhibited in Sulik's best efforts like TheGarden to enjoy much success beyond that.
Jobless quartet Karel(Navratil), Tomas (Martinka), Vinco (Kostelny), and Milan (Bares) pool theirmeagre resources to buy a truck, convinced it will help them find employment.But work is scarce, pay is bad and, worst of all, their uninsured truck isstolen, straining friendships to breaking point.
Sulik's chief concern,however, is the way in which each personal life is impacted by events. Karelhas to prepare his youngest daughter for communion while his wife ishospitalised after a car accident.
Meanwhile Milan has afretful relationship with his estranged wife, and their recalcitrant adolescentson, Vinco, has problems maintaining relationships with women. Tomas' malepride rebels against his wife waiting tables to such an extent that he is aboutto lose not only his spouse but also his sanity.
Despite its seeminggrimness, Sulik wraps all these disparate strands together with good spirit, aseach problem finds its peaceful, if not always satisfactory, resolution.
Essentially episodic, the plotlightly moves from incident to incident, as Sulik's particular brand of humourprevails through an enormously sympathetic cast that lighten the odd grimmoment.
Darker moments are dispelledwith little pain, and the off-screen answers to each man's respective troublesimplies that any threat of impending disaster is greatly exaggerated.
By the end the dominantlyimmature, macho strain shared by all four is fully revealed as they are seenjoyfully jumping up and down on a trampoline.
Ironically taking the film'stitle from a 17th-century Italian novel about an imaginary ideal city, Sulikdoes his best through imagery and art direction to underline the bleakness ofOstrava, a former hub of Czech industry that now harbours some of the highestunemployment rates of the republic.
The soundtrack is amonotonous brand of jazz that outstays its welcome way before the end credits.
Czech Television Ostrava
Czech Rep dist