Return of the Idiot
original title: Navrat Idiota
dir-scr Sasa Gedeon
with Pavel Liska, Anna Geislerova, Tatiana Vilhelmova, Jiri Langmajer, Jiri Machacek, Zdena Hadrbolcova, Jitka Smutna, Pavel Marek, Anna Polivkova, Yvetta Janouskova, Petra Kolarova, Josef Oplt
release UK 17.Mar.00 St Louis Film Fest Nov.00
awards Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Geislerova), Best Music, Critics Award--Czech Film Awards 00; International Jury Award--Sao Paulo 99
99/Czech 1h39 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Would you trust this man? Frantisek (Liska) is a naive man-child who just wants to help. Right?
Inspired by the Dostoyevsky novel, Sasa Gedeon's warmly funny romance is an engaging look at just how stupid some people can be. Frantisek (Liska) is a complete innocent, just released from an institution and on his way to see his last remaining relatives when he encounters a lovely young woman (Geislerova) on the train. As we meet more characters the story drops revelations galore about the intricate relationships between them--siblings, parents, lovers. And it sees to be up to Frantisek to face the truth ... and take the blame for their stupidity.

The story's farcical structure belies its insight. Gedeon cleverly plays against expectations (ours and the characters') with surreal and strong imagery that combines perspective and dreams along with a haunting, repetitive piano score. Frantisek's doctor has told him that "it no longer makes sense to avoid life," and his tentative forays into the big bad world are both funny and profoundly telling. The actors get the tone exactly right, especially Liska, who somehow makes Frantisek both goofy and charming at the same time. Vilhelmova is also excellent as the thoughtful woman caught in this love, er, pentagon.

[adult themes, language] 8.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall