Loners

Set in beautiful Prague, this subtle, sexy romantic comedy from the Czech director and writer David Ondricek and Petr Zelenka unfolds like a vintage Alan Rudolph movie: The fates of a diverse group of lonelyhearts intertwine as each searches for love — or at least the closest thing to it. Hanka (Jitka Schneiderova) and Petr (Sasa Rarilov) have been...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Set in beautiful Prague, this subtle, sexy romantic comedy from the Czech director and writer David Ondricek and Petr Zelenka unfolds like a vintage Alan Rudolph movie: The fates of a diverse group of lonelyhearts intertwine as each searches for love — or at least the closest thing to it. Hanka (Jitka Schneiderova) and Petr (Sasa Rarilov) have been together for three years, but both suspect their relationship has hit a wall. So with the flip of a coin, they decide to break up: Hanka moves back home with her haranguing mother (Hana Maciuchova) and passive father (Frantisek Nemec), while Petr, a radio DJ, eats his heart out each night on the air. Creepy Ondrej (Ivan Trojan), a celebrated — and very married — neurosurgeon, is delighted about the breakup: He's been obsessed with Hanka for years and finds encouragement in a strange coincidence. On the very night Hanka and Petr break up, Hanka and Jacob (Jiri Machacek), the chronically stoned moving man who's helping her with her stuff, pull an injured driver from a car wreck and rush him to the hospital; the attending physician just happens to be Ondrej. Jacob, meanwhile, takes the accident as a sign that he and Hanka were meant to be together, even though he already has a girlfriend (he's just too high to remember). And Ondrej's wife, Lenka (Dana Sedlakova), works with Petr's friend Robert (Mikulas Kren), an all-around cad who delights in videotaping the misery of others, at an unusual travel agency that arranges for Japanese tourists to visit Czech families in order to observe them in their natural habitat. Robert's latest model family just happens to be Hanka's parents. Robert seduces and abandons a young Macedonian bartender named Vesna (Labina Mitevska), who says she's come to Prague to look for UFOs but winds up playing a crucial part in the ongoing drama of Hanka and Petr's love life. The fact that none of this seems the least bit confusing as the various storylines unfold is a testament to Zelenka's deft script and careful arrangement of scenes. But the tone is uneven: Ondrej is a good deal more than just a heartsick fool, and his disturbing behavior (he eventually tries to set both Hanka and himself on fire, and no one seems to care) is at odds with the film's low-key comedy. Nevertheless, the film is stamped with a sharp visual wit and a funky style, with just the right amount of melancholy and magic to make the whole thing resonate.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Set in beautiful Prague, this subtle, sexy romantic comedy from the Czech director and writer David Ondricek and Petr Zelenka unfolds like a vintage Alan Rudolph movie: The fates of a diverse group of lonelyhearts intertwine as each searches for love —… (more)

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