Men in Hope (TheByteScene Review)

2.5 Incredibly-Well-Decorated-French-Czech-Restaurants out of 4

 

Not unlike relationships as a whole, infidelity as a subject is one that elicits reactions and opinions from anyone within earshot, even if an individual has no experience with adultery. From a purely psychological standpoint, the concept of adultery is straightforward and simple: An individual feels unfulfilled for any multitude of reasons -whether emotionally, physically, or otherwise – and decides that the only logical recourse is to have an affair. The possibility of risk, the dangers of being caught, and the potential losses to be accrued are all meaningless in the name of actualization and fulfillment, though Men in Hope attempts to argue that there’s more to infidelity than mere desire fulfillment and that the reasons behind feeling unfulfilled are not as straightforward as cheating itself.

 

Jiri Machacek and Bolek Polivka play the film’s two main leads, Ondrej, a young accountant turned chef/restaurant owner, and his father-in-law Rudolf, an adulterous rollercoaster designer turned cabby in the fruitful throes of retirement. In a sense, the two are polar opposites, representing different ideals on women, marriage, and relationships in general, and despite their legal relationship the two maintain a close friendship. Ondrej is entirely aware of Rudolf’s secret affairs, and though the son-in-law maintains a staunch disapproval of the older Casanova’s infidelities, he plays along with the charade with nothing more than several sardonic remarks.

 

Perhaps it’s because most father-in-laws don’t get along with their son-in-laws in film and television, but it’s refreshing seeing the two characters get along with each other instead of sharing a mutual dislike for one another. The dynamic the two actors share with each other onscreen is nothing short of remarkable; through no less than five or six lines the two actors manage to portray a well-rounded friendship guided by wisdom, respect, and trust. Certainly, standard jokes are made at Ondrej’s expense, but the dialogue flows naturally and each beat feels appropriate instead of forced.

 

The same thing, however, cannot be said for the story. I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but the plot whizzes by at an unnaturally fast rate with character motivations being shaky at best and developmental arcs leading almost nowhere. Certain conflicts are ratified almost as quickly as they’re introduced, and certain characters are so underdeveloped that it’s a wonder why they were included in the first place. Interestingly, Ondrej and Alica attempting to conceive – the film’s overlying conflict, and the presumed motivation behind the two characters – is one of the least developed plot points in the entire film. Some fault lies in the character of Alica; if the plot was a moving car, Alica would be nothing more than a leaf caught in the windshield twisting and turning based on the road and the direction of the wind.

 

Alternating between playing a nagging wife to a sycophantic husband, an unhappy restaurant owner running a sinking ship, and a disappointed daughter to a cheating father, Petra Hrebícková is forced into an underdeveloped role that ultimately goes nowhere simply because so little is done with a character who is so integral to the plot. Alongside Vica Kerekes’ Sarlota, the redheaded vixen who throws the story into motion (and begins Ondrej’s descent into ruin), Hrebickova comes off as unnecessarily contrived and incredibly shallow. Despite the fact that Sarlota is a more interesting character than Alica, it must be mentioned that her progression is just as convoluted.

 

The film focusses on the difference between men and women in a way that transcends basic gender roles; the male characters are better written and better played than their female counterparts, and through a cross medium irony the male characters come off as more interesting. Once again, however, these differences don’t progress past elementary gender roles and apart from a brief scene where a character is asked why it’s worse when a woman cheats, the film spends little time on society’s views regarding the hypocrisy surrounding the differences between female and male integrity.

 

Despite these literary weaknesses, praise must be given to the film’s cinematography, editing, and set design. Each scene is gorgeous, every set-piece is stunning, and the film’s overall look and feel is marvelous. Light, specifically ambient lighting, is used to great effect and the movie juxtaposes hot and cold brilliantly. For a movie about infidelity, it’s amazing how often scenes are sunny and bright, and it’s even more amazing how appropriate it all seems. As Ondrej continues his affair with Sarlota, and his character grows, so does the film’s beauty. The cinematography isn’t enough to salvage the characters’ sloppy writing, but coupled with slick editing and a minimalistic soundtrack, the movie is pleasant to experience.

 

Ultimately, however, the film’s weakness lies in its execution; underdeveloped motivation, coupled with poorly written female characters, a story that speeds past informative introductions and conclusions, and an incredibly random third act all leave a very ironic sense of unfulfillment.

 

I wanted more from the movie, not because I expected more from the outset, but because it felt like the film was trying so hard to prove that it could be greater than it really was.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: