1988                  Romantic political drama

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  • Dir:
      Philip Kaufman
  • Scr:
      Philip Kaufman, Jean-Claude Carriere, from the novel by Milan Kundera

    (Zaentz)



                                                                                                                                                                     stars

         kundera

    [ u n b e a r a b l e  l i g h t n e s s  o f  b e i n g :  r e v i e w ]

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    Rated: rated

      The problem of coming to terms with reality is the simplest explanation for this blatant, European-style art film directed by American Philip Kaufman. Lengthily elaborated from Milan Kundera's bestseller, it concerns a womanising surgeon (Day-Lewis) whose main loves are sacred (Juliette Binoche) and profane (Lena Olin), and how their involvement collides with the communist authorities in Czechoslovakia.

      Some wonderful atmospherics of a besieged culture don't make up for the fact that, at nearly three hours, it runs out of important things to say. Any film based on a Kundera novel is ultimately doomed to failure from the start, for how can film ever hope to capture the magical realism of the prose of Kundera? The magic is in the word, the use of a sentence, a paragraph, the beauty of ordinary words taken and made into poetry by the pen of the great man - this film cannot capture that magic. It is a good film but not a great film. Don't look for Kundera's magic because it is not here but the film, judged as a romantic political drama, it is acceptable enough.

      The performances of the three main stars are mixed. Binoche and Olin are absolutely enchanting; Binoche is adorably doll-like while Olin is simply striking as a woman who lives her sexual and artistic lives just as she pleases.

      Attractive in some ways, the character of Tomas is irritatingly uncommunicative and opaque at others, and Day-Lewis at times overdoses the self-consciously smug projection of his own appeal.

      Contains swearing and sex scenes.


    OSCARS:

    • 1988: Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography



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