Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Capricious Summer 
Capricious Summer was a big surprise for me. Unlike the four other films by the Czech master Jiri Menzel that I’ve watched, this wasn’t at all political, thus making it quite anachronistic with the Czech New Wave. And, more interestingly, it was sandwiched between Closely Watched Trains and Larks on a String – two of the most subversive sociopolitical satires I’ve watched. What Menzel presented here was an amusing and laidback comedy on ageing and male friendship. Adapted from a literary source like most his films were, the story was about three amiable middle-aged slackers living idle lives in an idyllic location in the countryside – a garrulous man (Rudolf Hrušínský) married to his frustrated and flirtatious wife, an uptight and puritanical priest (František Řehák), and a soft-spoken Major (Vlastimil Brodský). They spend their days lazing, drinking, fishing, swimming and philosophizing. But, the arrival of a quirky magician-cum-tightrope walker (played by Menzel himself), wake them from their stupors. And then they chance upon the performer’s coy, alluring and incredibly beautiful female assistant, and their lives don’t remain uneventful anymore with their respective hearts and loins jumping to top gear. But then, as can be expected, this detour from their mundane, monotonous lives ends in disappointment for all, thus reminding them, in no uncertain terms, that they aren’t young anymore. The film’s deadpan humour and whimsical tone made this a charming watch, though the rather simple premise and equally simple treatment made this too light to take seriously. The idiosyncratic turns by the three men was commendable, and the fools that they make of themselves sadly funny.
Director: Jiri Menzel
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Buddy Film
Country: Czech Republic (erstwhile Czechoslovakia)