10 January 2012 | MartinTeller
This brought to mind CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, another early Czech New Wave film about a teenage apprentice who's none too excited about his work. Both are coming-of-age comedies with some moments of awkward teen romance. This film (Forman's first feature) actually predates Menzel's, and has more of a freeform, anecdotal structure. Although not explicitly a commentary on Communism, Petr's distaste for spying on customers clearly has some political implications. The film has a gentle, naturalistic pace with scenes that have a nice attention to detail. Ladislav Jakim struck me as a fine young actor, and I liked how the rival boy gradually developed into a more sympathetic character (particularly during the dance scene, which was my favorite part of the movie). Jan Vostrcil, the wonderful lead in Firemen's Ball, perhaps lays it on a little thick as the overbearing father, but it's a somewhat humorous performance. Although the comedy is quite mellow and subdued, there are a few laugh out loud moments. Unfortunately, the Facets DVD sports an ugly transfer, and woefully incomplete subtitles. Entire swaths of dialogue went by without translation.