9 October 2016 | Raven-1969
Afraid to Die, Afraid to Live
Those afraid to die are really afraid to live. Hapless and desperate small town characters are frozen between life and death. They swing wildly between loving or fearing too much. They love, but are not loved back. They are unable or unwilling to break out of their funks. A paranoid security guard is in love with the past, obsessed with order and fearful of gypsies, inmates and foreigners invading his space. A desperate house-wife craves affection and an escape from demands as caretaker and nurse to a family of indifferent males. Her hapless husband rants about illnesses and afflictions that are more in his head than reality. A sex-worker looks to drugs and an absent man in prison as her saviors. The bouncer at her workplace desires her, but mostly because he loves a good fight. She deflects him at every turn. Of course kids are caught in the melee of insecurities and have various ways of coping with the "adults."
Mirroring the dichotomies of its characters, the film shifts back and forth from black and white to color. No judgments are made of the choices that the characters make in loving and losing control. Their plights are saddening, laughable and sobering all at once. There is room for compassion as well as condemnation of their actions. As always, it is wonderful to look at the world through the eyes of others and to see – however fleetingly - the differences and similarities of life in the Czech Republic. Improvements that might be made include depth to the dialogue (perhaps lost in translation), expanded action and acting, and a greater budget. Seen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.