Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Libanky
Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2013. Screenplay by Petr Jarchovsky. Cinematography by Martin Strba. Produced by Michal Kollar, Viktor Taus. Music by Ales Brezina. Production Design by Jan Kadlec Jr.. Costume Design by Katarina Bielikova. Film Editing by Alois Fisarek. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
A beautiful wedding on a beautiful morning between a very happy couple, Tereza and Radim, both of whom are trying their luck at the altar a second time. When Radim’s son accidentally breaks his glasses before the ceremony, they have just enough time to run across the street and get a repair from the local optician. The man behind the counter turns out to be someone from the groom’s past, not that he notices, and when the stranger follows the ceremony to its reception in the countryside, intent on crashing the party and ruining everyone’s good times with accusations of past crimes, Tereza is at a loss as to what to do. Keeping a wedding party going without incident is hard enough without a strange man showing up under an assumed name with evidence that you are marrying a man with a dark past, and director Jan Hrebejk makes sure the screws tighten and never let go until all is revealed at the right moment. Superb performances (Anna Geislerová reading a confessional letter is simply outstanding) and exquisite direction from a man who can never hide his love of humanity, even when showing it at its very worst, make for a satisfying film. Complaints will be made about an ending that does not tie its narrative up in a tidy bow, but what really impresses is the director’s willingness to admit that there are wounds that can never be healed, that the vulnerability of each individual’s need to achieve their goals will always result in a moral compromise.