DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DAISIES (Sedmikrasky) (director/writer: Vera Chytilová; screenwriter: from the story by Vera Chytilová/Ester Krumbachová/Pavel Jurácek; cinematographer: Jaroslav Kucera; editor: Miroslav Hájek; music: Jirí Slitr/Jirí Sust; cast: Jitka Crhová (Marie I, brunette), Ivana Karbanová (Marie II, blonde); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; Facets Video; 1966-Czechoslovakia-in Czech with English subtitles)

 
"Seems to drag and become tiresome and overlong even at only 74 minutes."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The stylish avant-garde experimental film, an early example of the New Wave in Czechoslovakia, seems to drag and become tiresome and overlong even at only 74 minutes. It's based on a story by Czech director and cowriter Vera Chytilová ("Pearls of the deep"/"The Fruit of Paradise"/"The Apple Game"), who fills this slapstick feminist farce with 1960s pretensions, juvenile silliness, loud attempts at psychedelic explosions, an abundance of sight gags, dumb pranks and a madcap freewheeling plotless scenario that looks like a silent comedy. It's cowritten by the legendary Ester Krumbachová, who also designed the marvelous sets. It uses both striking black-and-white and bold color photography, and it abounds in trick shots and special effects created by the great cinematographer Jaroslav Kucera (Chytilová's real-life husband). Because it was an all out attack on consumerism and materialism, and its anarchistic destructive climax ruffled the feathers of the communist authorities, it was banned for over a year. When finally released it found a very receptive audience for it both at home (in a limited run, as the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 made New Wave films one of its causalities of war) and abroad, whose audiences saw it as an arthouse film and made it a lasting cult hit.

Two bored but uninhibited zany destructive teenagers, both named Marie, believe everything in the world is spoiled. The brunette Marie 1 (Jitka Crhová) and the blonde Marie II (Ivana Karbanová) feel outrageously playful and pull off a number of pranks that concern pigging out on a steady supply of food, annoying patrons at a country cabaret by ordering and dining on food they put on the tab of the diners without their knowledge, stealing loose change from the ladies' room attendant, and Marie 1 answering the phone by saying "rehabilitation centre, Die! Die! Die!" Now wasn't that funny!

In one vignette Marie II is posing without clothes but covering up her private part with butterfly collectibles, but soon tires of the butterfly collector with whom she has been having an affair and joins the other Marie in fooling around by the train station with older male passengers they shamelessly rip off on dinner dates (How quaint!). The childish empty-headed pair finally end up in a hotel where they find an empty room that has an elegant banquet table and eat all the exotic food on the spread, get into a cake fight, break the furniture and swing from the chandelier. When they're through wrecking the place, they set the table back in order as before but only with broken dishes and no food. Feeling happy and tired because they think they've cleaned up their mess, they lie atop the table to rest and the chandelier falls from the ceiling atop of them as all we hear is a loud explosion. It ends with these words: "Dedication--To all those whose indignation is limited to a smashed-up salad."

So many critics found such questionable antics witty and funny, whereas I found the heroines to be dreadful creatures and the satire on materialism dismal, gimmicky, stupid and lame. Which probably proves that comedy like beauty might be in the eye's of the beholder. 

REVIEWED ON 11/4/2008        GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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