My Sweet Little Village

  • 1985
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy, Drama

Twenty years after his Oscar-winning debut film CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, Czechoslovakian director Menzel delivers a charming, provincial comedy set in a quiet village filled with its share of characters. The film centers on the comical Laurel-and-Hardy relationship of a hefty, veteran truck driver, Labuda, and his inexperienced, bungling assistant, Ban,...read more

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Twenty years after his Oscar-winning debut film CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, Czechoslovakian director Menzel delivers a charming, provincial comedy set in a quiet village filled with its share of characters. The film centers on the comical Laurel-and-Hardy relationship of a hefty, veteran truck

driver, Labuda, and his inexperienced, bungling assistant, Ban, the much-loved village idiot who utters only a few words on rare occasions. The pair constitute a whole whose halves come together every morning on their walk to work. As a ritual, Labuda leaves his house first, walks a way down the

dirt road, and gives a whistle for Ban. Ban comes along and, without even a "good morning," falls into step beside his partner for the walk to work. After having been partners for five years, Labuda finally gets fed up and asks for a new partner when harvest time comes to an end. Ban is

heartbroken and fears that he will get paired with Cepek, a nasty, hard-drinking driver. As a result, Ban, as sweet and innocent as he is, unknowingly becomes involved in a bureaucratic move engineered by a company executive to obtain a cozy house in the village. By offering Ban a job in Prague,

the company guarantees that his house will come up for sale. Prague, however, is not the place for Ban, who easily gets lost in the overwhelming bustle of the city. No one in the village wants to see Ban go, but only Labuda can persuade him to stay--something Labuda is violently against. Only at

the last moment does he realize how much he needs Ban, and the two reunite for another day of work. With Ban staying in the village, the company executive, much to everyone's joy, is unable to live among them.

More than just a story of two friends, MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE is just what the title implies--a story of a village. Besides Ban and Labuda, the serene, traditional town is populated with characters who are introduced to the audience primarily through the visits of the local doctor, Hrusinsky,

whose car has a nasty habit of breaking down. Woven together in a seemingly effortless manner are the stories of a jealous husband, his schoolteacher wife, the company employee who sleeps with her, and the teenage schoolboy who wishes he did. One of the methods of rendezvous used by the wife and

her lover is to send poor Ban to the movies while they make love in his bedroom. When Ban's darling and decrepit old mother one day finds the wife's misplaced hair barrette, she first suspects Ban but soon pieces the mystery together. This village, like all villages, has its secrets and its

unwritten code of morality--a code that allows people to act however they please, as long as their actions stay private and the town's welfare is not endangered. The film is filled with laughs (most of them coming from Ban's expressions) that color its sweet, gentle atmosphere. The most poignant

moment comes when Ban, as a show of his affection for Labuda, offers him a pair of pigeons for dinner. What makes this so moving is that Ban must break the pigeons' necks himself, an unpleasant task that he was previously unable to perform. Buried underneath the picture's charming surface is a

strong political statement indicting those high-ranking officials who think that their power gives them the right to infiltrate a village. In MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE, the serenity of the place is endangered by the executive, who not only wants to move in but to modernize, commercialize, and

plasticize his home and backyard--an action in direct conflict with the town's morals by an outsider who clearly doesn't know the rules of the game. Released in the US in 1986, the film was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film, but lost to THE ASSAULT.

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  • Released: 1985
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Twenty years after his Oscar-winning debut film CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, Czechoslovakian director Menzel delivers a charming, provincial comedy set in a quiet village filled with its share of characters. The film centers on the comical Laurel-and-Hardy rela… (more)

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