Babí léto a.k.a. Autumn Spring

I haven’t watched much of Czech films, only happen to come across a few from some film festivals which I couldn’t even remember the name of the movie. I guess most of Thai movie-goers in general might be in the same situation. In fact, as far as I know, there have never been a Czech film screening commercially in Thailand. Thus, the screening of this movie at house movie theater in Bangkok could be considered as a milestone for Czech film in Thailand.

"Babí léto" is a bittersweet comedy/drama about an elderly man named Fanda who refuses to admit that he is old. He and his closed friend, Ed, always go around pulling pranks and doing tricks (and, most of the time, getting into troubles.) He lives a life as if he was a child trapped in an old body at the age of 76. Fanda’s wife is at the other end of the spectrum. She seriously concerns of saving money for her husband’s and her own funeral. She even prepares the invitation to their funeral in advance. It’s just interesting enough to see what would become of Fanda’s relationships with everyone around him.

The ensemble of the cast is tremendously superb. Czech veteran actor, Vlastimil Brodský, perfectly portraits his role of Fanda. In fact, the screenplay of this movie is written with him as Fanda in the writer’s mind, thus the role of Fanda is meant especially for him. Stella Zázvorková, as Fanda’s wife, and Stanislav Zindulka, as Ed, also deliver their great performances. It’s no doubt that all three stars have won the prestigious Czech Lions (Czech’s top movie awards) in the category of Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor for this movie in the year 2002. The movie also snatched the Best Screenplay award from the Czech Lions which it’s truly deserved.

The story-line is well developed. The audience could actually feel Fanda’s young and childish attitude to live a life and resist death. As the story goes to its climax, we would get to know him well enough to see him as one of our relatives. The unpredictable ending is heart-warming, especially the last scene… No, I wouldn’t reveal that. You have to go and watch it by yourself and you would appreciate the meaning of life and love. I am certain about that.

4 and a half Stars out of 5 – recommend for those who are bored with main-stream Hollywood movies and plot-out-of-the-box Thai movies. Half a star has been deducted because of a technically incomplete subtitle (both Thai and English subtitle was gone from the screen for a couple of times) at the screening, not the 5-star-deserve movie itself.

Trivia from imdb.com: The Czech title translates as "Indian Summer" in English, but that due to American titles already having the same name, the distributor decided to release it as "Autumn Spring" in English North America.

PS. Thanks to popcornmag for providing me a free ticket to Press screening of this movie on 19 October 2005.

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