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Kawasaki's Rose (2009)

Kawasakiho ruze

Starring:

Anna Simonová

Antonin Kratochvil

Daniela Kolárová

Ladislav Chudík

Ladislav Smocek

Lenka Vlasáková

Martin Huba

Milan Mikulcík

Petra Hrebícková

Vladimir Kulhavy

Directed by:

Jan Hrebejk

Running Time: 100 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: Czech Republic

Kawasaki’s Rose is set in modern day Prague where respected psychiatrist Pavel (Huba) is being followed around by a documentary team, including his son-in-law Borek (Kratochvil) and bit on the side Radka (Hrebícková), as he is up for the ‘Memory of the Nation’ medal which will be awarded for his work as a dissident during Czechoslovakia’s time under Communism.  Some uncomfortable truths are uncovered as it turns out that Pavel wasn’t as squeaky clean as everyone once thought. The revelations that come to light have huge repercussions for his daughter (Vlasáková), wife (Kolarova) and ex-love rival (Chudík) and the doctor himself has to come to terms with his guilt.

Having lived in Prague recently, I know that subjects like the ones tackled here are very relevant today all over Central and Eastern Europe and need to be tackled in all forms of the arts and media. The most important issue here is the underlining of how the choices open to people living in a Totalitarian state were not as black and white as some may think – protecting one person could subsequently lead to ruining the life of another. The world was not as simply good verses evil as Hollywood likes to portray.

Although the subject matter may put some people off who do not feel they have the background knowledge to understand it, the story itself is gripping, moving and sufficiently well-made to entrance a casual historian. The characterisation is excellent and the protagonists come across as decent people but with deep flaws and secrets galore lurking under the surface.  The only downside is the under-development of Borek who seems to flip from decent husband and reputable filmmaker to complete scumbag in a flash and then his character disappears for large swathes of the film. A deeply unlikeable character who seems to win in the end.

Kowasaki’s Rose is doing the festival circuit at the moment and if it comes to a venue near you I’d strongly recommend a watch. Who knows, it may even reach the heights of Germany’s The Lives of Others.

It's Got: Overall excellent characterisation, a very worthy subject tackled in a convincing manner.

It Needs: Better characterisation of Borek

Alternatives:

Sophie's Choice, Sunshine (2000), The Lives of Others

Summary

This engrossing movie about love and betrayal and the repurcussions in Communist-era Czechoslovakia excellently highlights how everything is not always black and white. Really gives you something to think about.

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