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Postriziny (Cutting It Short)

Posted by martinteller on May 5, 2013

In a small Czech town, sometime in the 20’s or maybe early 30’s, Francin (Jirí Schmitzer) manages a brewery.  His wife Maryska (Magda Vásáryová) is the apple of his eye… and everyone else’s.  With long, beautiful golden hair and a playful, carefree attitude about life, she catches attention wherever she goes.  Francin adores his wife and she adores him, but he’s the more reserved type and all this attention makes him uncomfortable.  The situation gets worse when his brother Peppin (Jaromír Hanzlík) comes to town.  A cobbler by training, he takes up a job at the brewery.  Peppin is a jocular fellow who never stops running his mouth, and it’s always running at full volume.  His endless stream of anecdotes is a source of annoyance for Francin, and it’s double the trouble when Maryska joins him in his fun.

This is a delightful comedy from Jirí Menzel.  The relationship between Francin and Maryska is sweet and warm, despite his reservations about her behavior and his disapproval of the leers she gets.  They give each other gifts and enjoy sensual play (like the odd “therapeutic fulguration apparatus” he uses on her)… the relationship never feels threatened, only Francin’s nerves.  Schmitzer doesn’t portray the character with exaggerated exasperation, he’s more well-rounded than that.  Vásáryová is what you might call a “force of nature”.  She’s vibrant and bursting with joie de vivre.  She has a passion for the simple pleasures, like a heaping plate of pork (Francin, on the other hand, gets queasy around meat).  And Hanzlík has wonderful comic sensibilities, a complete lack of self-awareness.  It’s a charming trio of performances, and the supporting cast is enjoyable as well.

Much of the film plays like a silent comedy (“This isn’t a Charlie Chaplin movie!” one of the brewery board members exclaims when Peppin starts creating chaos) but only once or twice does the slapstick become annoying.  There’s a running gag involving one of the brewery workers constantly being inadvertently injured by Peppin’s antics.  I laughed every time it happened.

The film’s title refers to the changing times, as distances between towns, nations, cultures grow shorter (the theme is perhaps hammered home a little too heavily at the end).  Attitudes are shifting, and Francin must make some changes too.  The ending is an interesting juxtaposition of events that suggests things will somehow be okay from Francin and Maryska.  It’s a warm, nostalgic, joyful and funny little movie.  Rating: Very Good (87)


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