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Czechoslovakia, 1969 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Karel Kachyna

Twenty years after it was made and promptly banned, this deviously plotted Czech thriller remains fresh, incisive and mordantly funny about ambition, paranoia and conjugal bliss in the world of politics.

Ludvik, a high-ranking bureaucrat and his wife Anna return home from a reception. She's drunk and he's on edge. They discover that their (state-owned) villa has been entered in their absence. Having learnt during the evening that his superior and several other officials have been arrested, Ludvik suspects that he is under surveillance. Perhaps an "ear", a bugging device has been planted in their home. As the couple's fears escalate, so do their mutual recriminations. Police knocking at the door, they make desperate attempts to destroy the evidence...

jan Prochazka's remarkable script proceeds through an alarming series of revelations, twists and turns without ever losing its scary credibility. Finely shaded performances from the two leads make this brawling couple as distinctive and memorable as their night of reckoning. (BG)

"Dared to be funny as well as frightening...Extremely perceptive, marvellously acted.... (it) reminded some of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf crossed with Kafka. It is a real find, comfortably exceeding its reputation for for cheeky audacity and containing a pay-off sequence no other film at Cannes could match. - Derek Malcolm, Sight & Sound

'By far the best of the Czech features banned when Dubcek was toppled in 1969... the bitterest and most scathing account of what it takes to get ahead in a Communist bureaucracy." - Tony Rayns, Time Out

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