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Reviews & Ratings for
Something Like Happiness More at IMDbPro »Stestí (original title)

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33 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Rich drama with excellent performances

Author: s33a2d17 from Netherlands
1 February 2006

Stestí, shown at the International Filmfestival Rotterdam as 'Something Like Happiness' is by no means a comedy - it's only classification should be 'drama' as that is what it is. And excellent drama at that.

The story is simple in its outline: Monika, Dasha and Tonik are friends - or at least they all were at some point. At the movie's opening we learn that Monika's boyfriend left for the United States and will send for her as soon as he is settled, though no concrete time frame has been talked about. While her mother is supportive, her father apparently doesn't care much for the guy. He does, however, get along well with her longtime friend Tonik, and the two enjoy the occasional bottle (or two) of spirits. Tonik lives with his aunt in a house next to the factory his dad works for. The house is falling apart, but the aunt won't sell out to the factory, and this has strained relations between father and aunt, and thus father and son. Unfortunately, Tonik doesn't have a penny to his name, and they can barely afford electricity. Then there is Dasha, the catalyst of the story. She has two children by a man who has long since left, and is in love with a married man. Dasha is mentally unstable, has been so for some time, and doesn't know very well how to care of her two children. Tonik and Monika regularly help out and are like an aunt and uncle to the children, but Dasha's mental problems make her scornful, even hateful towards her friends. Then Dasha has a breakdown and both Monika and Tonik need to decide how to balance their own needs with those of Dasha and her children.

I can't (or rather won't) tell you more about the story - I do not want to include spoilers. But while the story so far sounds grim, and the surroundings look equally grim and grey, with the smoking nuclear plant dominating the scenery, there is levity and a surprising amount of warmth in this movie as the characters strive towards something like happiness.

The acting is very natural, it feels like Monika and Tonik play themselves rather than their roles, and there is real chemistry between the two. The roles of the respective parents should not be overlooked either, although I am sorry to say I don't have a list of the full cast to give them the credit they deserve.

Most striking is the perseverance of these wonderful people considering the circumstances they live in and the blows life deals them. There is an admirable strength of character to Monika and Tonik and you can't help but feel for them and wish them well.

The movie feels longer than it actually is. Not in that it gets boring, on the contrary, had it been an hour longer I would still have enjoyed watching it, because the characters are so interesting. It feels long because of the range of events covered. By the end of the film, you feel you've come to know the characters, almost as friends. A part of me would like to contact the director and ask if they're alright. It's funny how real fiction can be.

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28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Definitely not a "comedy"...

Author: jdosek from Czech Republic
26 September 2005 it's indicated in movie info. Better genre description is "bitter-sweet comedy".... This movie is pretty sad look into life of poor people from industrial part of Czech. It's about life which most of us wouldn't like to live, but all of us should realize, that a lot of people live their lives that way. After you see this movie, you will realize how perfect life you live, how hard life some people live and how much should we be thankful for every day we live. What is most neighbourly in this movie, is that characters in are not described as embittered people without buoyancy, but as people who enjoy every day and every little joy as it comes...

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Film-making in its best

Author: filthy_morphine from Czech expat in Seoul
10 January 2006

Definitely one of the best films I have ever seen. Slama has worked on this project for a long time and the result is really outstanding. The characters are very real and the depiction of life in terrible conditions is very faithful. Slama also carefully chose the actors and the choice was excellent. Also his work with actors is very natural and therefore the acting in the movie is unforced and smooth. This movie really got under my skin. Very clever, perfect workmanship and strong theme. I left the cinema and couldn't stop thinking about it. This is exactly the movie that starts up your mind and raises a lot of questions. But despite it's mostly sad movie it doesn't leave the sad feeling in you. After all it is optimistic, in the end it celebrates life and my opinion is that it raises the happy things in life.

I recommend this movie to everyone.

Good luck :)

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This is worth seeing. The most talented Czech director.

Author: rad-sim from Czech Republic
24 May 2007

There are quite different opinions on Bohdan Slama, a young Czech director. I give my own here. I believe him to be the greatest talent of the current Czech cinematography. He worked on his second movie "Stesti" really hard and for a long time, which eventually led to a surprisingly good result and high expectations of his upcoming work. He is marvelous (and precise!) in directing the actors, he gives them life and credibility. The movie is very dense and every moment is functional so it requires you to watch carefully! Most people say it is a sad or even a drastic movie and take the name Stesti rather as irony of the author. "Stesti" is ambiguous between happiness and luck. The German Glück is exactly the same. (How silly that they try to find different names for it in English and German! Something like happiness is a REALLY bad translation.) Seeing the movie only from its sad side is seeing the surface. Somewhere deeper, in the minds of the two main characters - Tonik and Monika, who eventually fall in love, there is a real happiness, one which most of us hasn't had the opportunity to experience. The happiness stems from the very fact that they live a life which is not simple but very meaningful. The sad and drastic background stands in direct contrast to the inner happiness of the characters. This is most apparent at the very end, where Monika, after leaving her boyfriend in the United States (most obviously standing for empty meaningless material dreams, not at all for a better life) comes back to Tonik's house (the symbol of all his humble material efforts but also and mainly his home), which is under destruction. Monika leaves the place with a light smile (how can people not see that!) and goes looking for Tonik, the source of her happiness, the one who gives her life meaning, no matter where he is, whether he has a house, or fixes broken windows with a piece of scotch-tape. The message of the movie is totally universal and labeling it as a social drama stemming from the unsatisfactory situation of an industrial and poor region of the Czech Republic is a misinterpretation, or at least a demotion.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Dark and beautiful

Author: vadlaursen from Czech Republic
14 March 2006

"Stesti" was my all-time first Czech movie. It won't be the last.

Being a newcomer in the Czech Republic I still do not quite understand the language. For the same reason I wen't to watch the movie with English subtitles - I thought. It turned out that this version of the movie was without any kind of subtitles.Desided to give the movie a chance anyway - and I did not regret it.

Even though I understood none of the spoken words, the story was cristal clear to me. The story of this movie has been told many times before (it especially reminds me of the Danisk feature film "Mifunes sidste sang). Nonetheless the performances by the main characters are very trustworthy and "real". The settings and scenery makes the movie all the more authentic. During the movie you can't help start thinking that some real-life people are really living under these circumstances.

The story is dark and at the same time beautiful. Check out the movie if you are in the mood for a hardcore real-life story.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and Realistic European Drama

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
14 April 2012

In a industrial city in the Czech Republic, Monika 'Moni' (Tatiana Vilhelmová), Tonik (Pavel Liska) and Dasha (Anna Geislerová) are old friends that live in a working class building.

Moni's boyfriend Jirka has just emigrated to the United States of America expecting to have a better life and promises to bring Moni later. Her mother Jirina, who is a woman frustrated with her marriage with the unemployed Olda Soucek, presses Moni to move on together with Jirka, but her father would rather prefer his daughter to stay in their country.

Tonik is a loser, but a good man, that has an unrequited love for Moni. His estranged father would like him to work in the local factory, but Tonik has chosen to move to the ruined house that belonged to his grandfather and the factory wants to buy where his aunt lives.

Dasha is an unbalanced, neglectful and ungrateful single mother with two sons, Denis and Pat, and has an affair with the married Jára (Marek Daniel). When Dasha has a mental breakdown, she is interned in a psychiatric hospital and Moni decides to stay in the Czech Republic with the children, otherwise they will be sent to the orphanage. She moves to Tonik's house and together with his aunt, they work hard to restore the house. Out of the blue, Dasha returns to take her children.

"Stesti" is a powerful and realistic drama about relationship, friendship, feelings, love, ingratitude, happiness and many other emotions. The top-notch performances give the sensation of a documentary and it is interesting to see the children growing up along eighteen months of filming.

Moni is an enlightened character and Tatiana Vilhelmová is a very beautiful woman. Fortunately "Stestí" is an European film therefore with a realistic conclusion without false redemption. I am sure that Moni will find Tonik since his father lives in the same building of her family and her travel is certainly to meet him. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Algo Como a Felicidade" ("Something Like Happiness")

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Tonik and the goats

Author: Chad Shiira from
14 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's Christmas time in a Czech Republic apartment complex, but not all of the residents feel like celebrating, certainly not Dasa(Ana Geislerova), who is impervious to the yuletide spirit of a visiting neighbor. Spurned by her married lover, Dasa shows Monika(Tatiana Vilhelmova) the door, along with the romantically obsessed mistress' two bawling children, and Tonik(Pavel Liska), Monika's childhood friend, bearer of a secret flame for this claimed woman. With the unwanted gift still in Monika's possession, the mirthless Santa Claus brigade rides the elevator in silence, down, like a descent into the devil's lair. Since Monika's lover is in America, a juxtaposition is created, by which two countries beget a hierarchy, which corresponds with the two men prominent in the petite woman's life. When the mother learns that her daughter will be joining the Czech emigrate stateside, she receives the news as if a plane ticket to America is like a passport into heaven.

While Soucek(Bolek Polivka) is abroad, the people he left behind form a temporary family. To a passerby who might have happened to see Monika and Tonik confined to a rowboat, or the platonic friends with Dasa's children huddled together in an amusement park bumper car, they would presume the two arrangements of live bodies as being a happy couple and a loving family. For quite some time, Tonik's life has been in a holding pattern, but with Monika's departure looming over the horizon, this quiet, unassuming man tries to win her approval by renovating his junkyard dwelling he shares with a spinster aunt. So does the goat herder stand a fighting chance against the go-getter? Meanwhile, Monika entertains second thoughts about meeting Soucek in the states, much to her mother's considerable chagrin. When the go-getter returns for a quick visit, Soucke's post-coital diatribe about the inelegance of Czech life, generates disharmony in the reunion bed, as Monika turns over on her side with a look of quiet anguish. In judging his birthplace so harshly, he's judging her. Now that Soucek perceives himself as being something of a continental man, he unknowingly pushes Monika closer to Tonik. Bereft of her boyfriend's experiences, Monika feels like an unsophisticate, and finds solace in the company of the uncomplicated Tonik, a fellow provincial native like herself, to help the torn woman regain her bearings. But it's up to Tonik to set the love of his life free, whose official reason for staying in country, is to look after the welfare of Dasa's children.

Who knows for sure, the secrets of a woman's heart; secrets that "Stesi" wisely never reveals, although the audience has their suspicions. "Stesi" is an objective film that suggests the probability for long-term contentment may very well lie in North America, but it never consigns the economically depressed native country and the people who live there, to hell. Contrary to what Soucek thinks, living in the former Czechoslovakia is not the end of the world.

Love resides there. It just might be the beginning.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

New Czechs

Author: akkron from Paris, France
13 April 2006

The film "Stesti" ("Some kind of happiness") reminds me of the cinema of the Czech New Wave of sixties, especially of the first films of Milos Forman (The Loves of a Blonde, The Firemen's Ball). The same sincere and touching interest to the preoccupations and destiny of the simple people, especially their sentimental life. The same unhurried cadence. But it is a more disillusioned film also, probably because it describes a country in the state of breakdown before reconstruction and it shows the people in the turmoil and torment of change. It is an unsophisticated film, as films of the developing world often are, but it is realistic and honest one as these films are sometimes. Of course Czechie is not a developing country but it seems that the sophistication and glamor of Western cinema is not so easy to attain even for a director of talent. I must mention also the work of the cameraman. Especially his landscapes. Sometimes they are absolutely exquisite. Sometimes beautiful and nostalgic.

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Splendid acting esp. by the lead actor and actress , good camera work … worth watching

Author: vishnudoc from Trivandrum India
3 February 2013

Post eastern block collapse Czech , lack of opportunities , borderline poverty , dull and drab everyday life. Strained system , multitude of problems that we see anywhere everywhere … lack of family values , insanity , selfishness …. promise of migration to a better world.Through all these a young girl with an escape at hand ( read immigration to the promised land ) keeps alive her human values , value for life , family , obligations .There is nothing extraordinary happening in this movie at any given moment … yet there is a simple flow of life with all its pain and anguish that we feel , I would rate this as a very good drama realistic ,simple , true to life …. a good cinema that would remind you about the true purpose of life itself !!!Splendid acting esp. by the lead actor and actress , good camera work … worth watching !!!

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Author: hauman from Germany
22 November 2011

Story of supermarket employee who is torn between her romantic but hopeless childhood friend and a man who can offer her a future abroad but no inner home. Playing in the most inhospitable environment, a silent beauty shines from the main characters hearts and enchants the viewer. Still there's nothing false or sweetish about the portrayal. The protagonist's neighbor, for example, an irresponsible, manic depressive young mother (fantastically portrayed by Anna Geislerová who, had she been American, would have gotten an Oscar for this part) with two little children and the next one to come surely tests our patience - and there's a kind of half-baked happy ending when it comes to her (she gets what she wants,neither knowing nor acknowledging what others have done to help her). Also the other actors (Tatiana Čecháková-Vilhelmová as Moni and Pavel Liška as Toník) are out of this world.

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