The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

Phil Kaufman's film version of Milan Kundera's acclaimed novel opens in Prague shortly before the Soviet invasion of 1968, where Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), a brilliant playboy surgeon, lives a "light" existence free of commitment. Tomas falls in love with the shy, provincial Tereza (Juliette Binoche), eventually marrying her. He continues to womanize, though,...read more

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Phil Kaufman's film version of Milan Kundera's acclaimed novel opens in Prague shortly before the Soviet invasion of 1968, where Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), a brilliant playboy surgeon, lives a "light" existence free of commitment. Tomas falls in love with the shy, provincial Tereza

(Juliette Binoche), eventually marrying her. He continues to womanize, though, especially with the similarly free and easy Sabina (Lena Olin), defending his adultery by insisting that sex and love are not the same thing. When the Soviet tanks roll into Prague, Sabina flees to Geneva, but Tomas and

Tereza stay behind--she snapping pictures of the clampdown, riots, demonstrations, and violence. Eventually they, too, head for Geneva, and Tomas resumes his liaison with Sabina. When Tereza decides to return to Czechoslovakia, Tomas follows her home. There they sustain the weight of Soviet

influence fairly easily, until authorities discover that Tomas once wrote an anti-Communist article. Though Tomas, typically, wrote the piece on a whim, he refuses to renounce it and suffers professionally. In the meantime, he continues to philander and Tereza continues to try to understand his

philosophy of sex versus love. With its distinguished international cast and crew, volatile historical backdrop, and numerous erotic scenes, all filtered through the eye of American director Kaufman (THE RIGHT STUFF), THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING is the perfect European art film for American

audiences who thirst for movies that are "intellectual" but not so much so that they can't understand them. Unfortunately, for all its credentials and the virtuoso performances of its three leads, this lengthy movie doesn't add up to much. It fails to explore its themes--love and hedonism, freedom

and commitment (political and sexual)--in depth, floating haphazardly from scene to scene without emotional or intellectual development. Shot in Geneva and Lyon, France (the latter town standing in for Prague, where Kundera's work is banned), the film places greater stress on the actual events of

the 1968 Soviet invasion than does its source, incorporating real black-and-white footage of the time with simulated shots featuring Binoche and Day-Lewis.

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  • Released: 1988
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Phil Kaufman's film version of Milan Kundera's acclaimed novel opens in Prague shortly before the Soviet invasion of 1968, where Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), a brilliant playboy surgeon, lives a "light" existence free of commitment. Tomas falls in love with t… (more)

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