' ' Cinema Romantico: CIFF Review: Flowerbuds

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CIFF Review: Flowerbuds

A signal operator at a train station in a wintry Czech industrial town, Jarda (Vladimir Javorsky), tends to his ship in a glass bottle. But then a van, driven by Jarda’s Vietnamese neighbor, becomes stuck in the rail-line at the same moment a train, as it must, bears down on him. In a moment without even a whiff of melodrama, Jarda swoops in for the rescue. He pushes the van out with nary a second to spare. As he does, the camera returns to the ship in the glass bottle as it rolls off the table and breaks apart on the floor. Real life intrudes and, as it does, our dreams are shattered.

This dramatic debut from writer/director Zdenek Jirasky brought to mind a more eastern European flavored Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu whose films are famous for their multiple characters and intertwining storylines. But while Inarritu’s films always seem to suggest lives intertwining is part of a grander meaning, “Flower Buds” seems to suggest that if you live in a tiny town people’s lives are bound to bump up against others.

Ground Zero is Jarda’s household. His wife Kamila (Malgorzata Pikus) scrubs toilets and mops floors by day and is a Flower Bud – a slightly less whimsical version of a Calendar Girl – by night. His teenage daughter Agata (Marika Soposka) is pregnant, though she doesn’t seem to know who the father is (there are two possibilities) and she doesn’t seem to know if she wants to keep it. His teenage son Honza (Miroslav Panek) falls in love with a stripper who performs for the hardscrabble locals. Meanwhile Jarda himself constructs his ships in his bottles, harboring a dream of taking his family and leaving this mundane existence behind. Ah, but dreams aren’t funded on emotion, and so Jarda wiles away dreary nights at the dreary pub by taking out loans he can’t afford to play the slots. Gambling never looked so unromantic.

Director Jirasky spoke very briefly through an interpreter before the screening and said he had made a movie that was “a little depressing” but that was also injected with humor. And Jirasky, not surprisingly, knows his own film pretty well. It is a little depressing but it is injected with humor. The humor, however, is not necessarily used by the characters as an attempt to shield them from their misery. Rather the humor shines through the misery.

Oh, the characters try to shake free from their misery in their own ways, though whether they will get there is not truly determined. There are no real resolutions to the various story lines. Instead they just kind of trail off into the snowy Czech air and leave us with the sensation that if we don't get with the program and choose the course of our own lives, life chooses for us.

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