A few kilometres between two villages. Czech and Austrian borderline separates two different worlds, it could seem that there is nothing as remote as the life on either side of the line, the well-being of the honourable capitalism and the poverty of the remains of the (sur)real socialism. It seems that nothing could be closer than two lonely people.
Seidl is a stylist of extremes. His Austria is described by advertisement flysheets, asphalt roads, and little pink rooms. His Czecho(Slovakia) is covered in dirt and degenerated faces, Czech people killing animals. The grey rain curtain is framing a winter journey of an Austrian widower to meet a woman he had chosen when looking over the border with his binoculars. But a lack of understanding, historical interruption and a gap still remaining there after the iron curtain change the dreams about happiness and a fragile relationship of two elderly people into a universal story of loneliness and unfulfilled desire woven into melancholic images of manifold loss (of home, youth, love). The "hopeless eastern" apathy prevails, each outlook through pubs, courtyards and living rooms, each animal portrait from behind the fence (South Bohemian village) complete the mosaic of depressing everydayness that, at the end, scars forever even the shiny picture of the director's country.
The director composes his counterpoint using simple cuts of Austrian and Czech scenes, facing each other (and beside each other for a while) there is a bizarre hero who came to the Czech Republic, because his fridge is running out of stock and he needs a housemaid and an elderly woman (of German nationality who, however, was not expelled after the war) living in a house where there is not running water. The two worlds are linked by a heavenly voice of Karel Gott, the bells of happiness are ringing both in Czech and in German. Embarrassing misunderstandings leave no space for sympathy. It is predestined by the external view, illustration effect, and the theorem of ever-divided Europe. The Austrian gives a report about the Czech Republic of the beginning of nineties, his clinical picture shows no signs of energy that could have been brought to the neighbouring country by the newly born democracy. Seidl's unique testimony of a would-be end of one tiny Central European history builds on absurdity and eternal fatigue. His political (that is lyrical) film, the irremovable nakedness again.
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