Fri 19 Aug 2016
This may be the first Czech film that I see in 40 years. The occasion is the Czech film festival hold in my city (and several other Cinematheques) in Israel. The good news are that the Czech cinema seems to be alive and doing quite well, an observation which I hope will be confirmed by the other two films that I plan to see in the coming weeks.
’The Snake Brothers’ directed by Jan Prusinovský has an atmosphere and an intrigue which is quite typical for much of the cinema issued in the last 25 years in the former communist countries. It tells the story of two brothers and their friends in a small city in the Czech republic trying to meet ends in a world that changed the rules without adapting the economic infrastructure but especially without replacing the old set of rigid moral patterns with something that can provide a goal in life. It is however much more than another story of survival in the Wild East of the New Europe. The two brothers – one hard working and with some entrepreneurial spirit, the other smelling pure trouble in all he does and hurting everybody around in order to feed his drugs addiction – represent a modern incarnation of the Cain and Abel couple, at least apparently. As the very well written story develops we understand the things are not necessarily what they seem to be. Then end is one of the bests I have recently seen in movies, and makes you think about the fate of the characters long after the film is over, and gives a new sense (almost ad literam) to the old ‘deus ex machina’ expression. Accomplishment is often based on somebody else’s tragedy – but can this really be a source of happiness? You will find yourself asking this question after screening is over.
There is much more to be said about the quality of this film. Director Prusinovský is surprisingly at his first long feature independent film on big screens. His previous work was all TV-related, but maybe some of the accuracy in reading the psychology of the characters reflects this experience. He is strongly supported by a team of superb actors including the (real) brothers Matej Hádek and Krystof Hádek who bring to life the small Czech city landscape. ‘The Snake Brothers’ is a (good) film about the troubled times part of Europe goes through, but is also much more than that.