A Slovak Thelma & Louise with a touch of Fellini and Kusturica
Jakubisko's "It's better to be Wealthy and Healthy, than Poor and Ill", is a cinematic joy from start to finish. Often it is described as being the Thelma & Louise of Eastern Europe. Sort of, but it's more of a slapstick tragicomedy with Surreal elements. The Story takes place in 1989, around the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. Nona the main character is Slovak, and she befriends Ester who is Czech. Nona is pregnant and abandoned by her politician boyfriend, because he doesn't want a kid. The other man she sees comes around from time to time, but avoids commitment. Ester also has bad luck with her communist activist boyfriend. Immediately the two ladies hit it off and become roommates, but survival is tough in a post cold war country; so they resort to crime. Their next door neighbor is an old nun, who stops bye to check on them and sometimes even to party with them too. Nona and Ester have many misadventures and road trips. They get involved with stealing, prostitution, stripping or whatever means necessary to survive. Usually they trick men by stealing their wallets, and running off without ever having sex with them (so their not really prostitutes, but more of thieves) Things get better for them when they rob a truck driver, who sells people broken electronics from the black market. He has millions, which they take from him at gunpoint. From that point on their lives change both for the better and worse. Of course the film is funny, sad, surreal and all heart at the same time, as of most eastern European comedies. With colorful characters, dreamlike images and political satire, Jakubisko has been compared to Fellini and Emir Kusturica. So the film is kind of like Thelma & Louise, but more so for the oppressed, poor and struggling working class. This film is so much fun, and is the last film in Jakubisko's Trilogy of happiness. If you can find a copy, your guaranteed a unique movie experience. 10/10
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