Petr is 17 years old and starts work. Incredibly (for Czechoslovakia in 1963) this is as a security worker against shoplifting in a busy self-service shop. His boss gives him pretty basic instructions, and Petr is pretty unsuccessful at work. He doesn't do much better at the dancehall either, and at home his bombastic father lectures him about how useless he is. Written by
Hazel Freeman <email@example.com>
This brought to mind CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, another early Czech New Wave film about a teenage apprentice who's none too excited about his work. Both are coming-of-age comedies with some moments of awkward teen romance. This film (Forman's first feature) actually predates Menzel's, and has more of a freeform, anecdotal structure. Although not explicitly a commentary on Communism, Petr's distaste for spying on customers clearly has some political implications. The film has a gentle, naturalistic pace with scenes that have a nice attention to detail. Ladislav Jakim struck me as a fine young actor, and I liked how the rival boy gradually developed into a more sympathetic character (particularly during the dance scene, which was my favorite part of the movie). Jan Vostrcil, the wonderful lead in Firemen's Ball, perhaps lays it on a little thick as the overbearing father, but it's a somewhat humorous performance. Although the comedy is quite mellow and subdued, there are a few laugh out loud moments. Unfortunately, the Facets DVD sports an ugly transfer, and woefully incomplete subtitles. Entire swaths of dialogue went by without translation.
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