For the first time, actor-inspired actors Jiří Schmitzer and Ladislav Mrkvička appear in the roles of two masters above the grave in a true, event-inspired film. Both are former political prisoners and decide to murder the former communist prosecutor. He made them hell when they were closed. A fun topic? Maybe good at the beginning. However, it is based on real events. There are not many comedy elements. From the originally planned documentary to a dramatic feature film that shows not only a chapter in the story that we couldn’t deal with, but also the suffering and complaints of advanced age …
“Tondo, I came to Freeze to kill,” says Vlastimil Reiner (Schmitzer) at the beginning of the film to his old friend Antonin (Mrkvička) when he comes to the Czech Republic from Oregon, where he emigrated. And the rest of the film is subject to that. The way to revenge. However, the film’s authors (duo directors and screenwriters at the same time) feel honored that they have chosen not to interpret this topic as a hard-hitting thriller in the style of American action heroes, but as a place where they can still find it after the 1970s Gangsters leave a far too realistic frosty drama in which the journey itself is more of a destination. For both men, one of whom is also disabled, there are major barriers to age. Similar to in smuggler Clinta Eastwood. Nobody is young, I want to say. Here, however, our recent history drives the moral ambiguity and bitterness of both heroes’ actions.
The story of a regime that has destroyed many lives and whose crimes we as a society have not fully mastered. Whatever the viewer’s point of view, the filmmakers don’t undermine it. Instead, they do a kind of odyssey to salvation with us and two protagonists against the backdrop of a play of light on the subject of “what if”. In a few films you feel so old. This will give you the most. And the inspiration of reality? It is based on the unrealized plan of a real war veteran, emigrant and regime prisoner. Pravomil Raichl, who decided at the turn of the millennium to do the same thing with his friend. However, fate did not want this and Raichl died on the eve of the planned crime. Here the makers decided to allow the heroes of revenge.
As I wrote, the author’s original plan to shoot a documentary about the entire event has become a road movie with documentary elements that simply don’t deny themselves. The film contains practically no music and is shot at a certain distance. Even thanks to the locations that well reflect the post-revolutionary facade, for which we have actually and metaphorically paid in recent history, everything we observe here is enveloped in a certain depressing atmosphere. It leaves a strange, unsatisfactory impression for the rest of the film and forces you to think about the film for a while after the final subtitles are done. Which is great. Although I sometimes thought that a tragicomedy would fit better, I understand the intentions of the authors.
Of course, both actors who breathed life into their characters deserve a thumbs up (and certainly no surprise). Jiří Schmitzer shines a little more, to whom make-up artists have added wrinkles for a decade. He could very convincingly portray an old man who was locked in a wheelchair and I sincerely hope that the Czech lion will not miss it. Because the mature actor is fully striving for him. Without the central couple, the entire event would of course not have been so meaningful by far, and it is largely based on the performance of both masters. I was also happy about a certain depersonalization, which is perfectly reflected in the moral but also ambiguous ending. It’s a question of whether it is really good to take some action when we realize what it all costs.
The old men are a strong and very serious drama with a similarly strong theme (a name that personally reminds one of fun) terrorists however, it could be chosen narrower), which seemed to stay halfway, though without excessive pathos or artificially created nostalgia, thanks to a slow pace (not only the main characters, but also the narrative). We are thrown into the water and must end the past of both heroes from the fragments contained here as well as from what we know about our history. It is held above the water by magnificently portrayed main characters and a series of ever new contemporary motifs that still move society – and thus the viewer. Perhaps it is worth making a documentary and using the actor only to reconstruct the events, as in a very good documentary about the communist martyr priest Josef Toufar – As if we should die today, The film is very depressing in some places, as it has brought with it many inconveniences and helplessness, which led to a certain catharsis after the finale. Instead, there are thoughts of a difficult age and that some things are likely to remain unsolved forever. Such films are also required. I’m just not sure if I want to see that again. At least not in the near future …
Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2019, 85 min
Road movie / drama
director: Martin Dusek, Ondrej Provaznik
Scenario: Martin Dusek, Ondrej Provaznik
Actor: Jiří Schmitzer, Ladislav Mrkvicka, Dusan Kaprakik, Michal Suchanek, Prämysl Bures, Karel Jirak, Marika Prochazkova, Pavel Batek and others.