Czechoslovakia, 1967 (MIFF 1969, Programme 14)

Director: Jirí Menzel

In an atmosphere of placid leisure and late-middle-aged tedium vitae, three provincial gentlemen accept their lot with philosophical detachment. Enter an acrobat-magician and his beautiful blonde assistant. In the village priest, the retired army officer, and the lakeside boathouse owner, dormant sensuality is suddenly awakened to goad them into reckless abandon in an endeavour to recapture their youthful past. The consequences are extraordinarily comic.

Jiri Menzel's film debut was Closely Watched Trains. There he demonstrated an inspired touch which gently blended pathos with comedy. Now in his second work he turns to period comedy in which tender backward glances to the 1920s are enhanced by colour used to evoke reflective emotions, and he displays an even subtler touch than before. By the time the three thwarted lovers bid adieu to their last illusions, we may have glimpsed something of the poignant ecstasy of hopes reawakened, and perhaps recognized a little of ourselves.

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