Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 MFF Film #6 - An Earthly Paradise for the Eyes

Czech Republic, 2009
Czech with English subtitles
Director: Irena Pavlaskova

In 1968 Czechoslovakia, a mother and her two teenaged daughters experience the Russian occupation of their country, which is further exacerbated by the return of her ex-husband, an actor who is also a political dissident.  The three try to make their lives as normal as possible as they find themselves becoming peripherally involved in the opposition movement.

An Earthly Paradise for the Eyes begins as a family drama, but then sort of spins off the rails a bit and the themes become more muddy.  Pavlaskova's direction becomes scattered until there really is no direction.  The pacing is also odd, with time jmps that don't make sense other than to force the story along, which made for some non-sensical timing.  If the film had picked up the pac a bit, or stayed structured, as it seemed to be in the beginning, it would have been a better movie, but I was simply bored and starting to look at my watch a little more than an hour into it. 

I was also really dismayed by the end of Paradise, which reintroduced a character that had disappeared long ago in the film, without any explanation of background that he was even involved with the mother.  Plus, it contained what could be my biggest film pet peeve:  ending in a freeze frame.  I don't care that Truffaut did it in The 400 Blows, a film that I loved.  Freeze frames are for 80's rompfests and basketball movies; anywhere else it's just a really lame technique.  Plus, for the life of me I still don't get how the title corrolates with the film. 

I rated An Earthly Paradise for the Eyes a 3/5 initially, but that was because I tore the ballot when I thought the film was ending, but then there was another half hour left.  Had it ended when I thought it would, it would have been a tighter film and probably deserved that rating, though it still would have been a litle generous.  I let it go since I had to race to get to my next screening, but I should have rated the film a 2/5, which is what I'm giving it at this point.  It didn't come close to being as good or entertaining as any of the films I've previously rated 3/5. 

MFF Ballot Rating: 3 out of 5
Should Have Been Rated: 2 out of 5

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