Up and Down
Autumn 2005 Edge series
Sunday, November 6, 2005 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 6, 2005 at 7:00pm
Rated 14A ·
German, Czech, English, and Russian
Director Jan Hrebejk (Divided We Fall) once again delivers a perfectly-balanced dark comedy, a satire addressing the fragile state of the contemporary Czech Republic, as well as the foibles of the more or less damaged characters who populate the film, all of whom are in search of redemption.
Unfolding in three loosely-connected storylines, the film opens with a pair of petty criminals smuggling Indians across the Czech border. After making their delivery, they discover a baby that has been left behind, and take it directly to the pawn shop. Everything has its price, it seems, and Miluska (Natasa Burger), a barren housewife who wants nothing more than a baby, buys the Indian boy with her life savings. Her husband, Franta (Jiri Machacek), a soccer hooligan turned law enforcer, is less than pleased with the baby’s brown skin color, but slowly warms to him, eventually facing off with his racist drinking buddies.
In a third story, a college professor (Jan Triska) finds out he has cancer and reconnects with his estranged son, Martin (Petr Forman, son of legendary director Milos Forman), who has lived in New Zealand for the past 20 years. It’s a difficult reunion, as Martin comes home to find his father living with his old girlfriend, meets a sister he never knew he had, and encounters his near-unrecognizable mother.
The film weaves together a strikingly rich number of themes in its material, encompassing racism, economic disparity, familial relations, crime, and immigration problems, and gives them a sympathetic, humanistic treatment.