A warm, generally engaging first feature by young Slovak director Eva Borusovicova, "Blue Heaven" analyzes the relationships among a mother, daughter and grandmother living in the lovely Slovak countryside, while burrowing into the mistakes and failings that haunt all three. Pic boasts terrific performances and helmer shows promise.

A warm, generally engaging first feature by young Slovak director Eva Borusovicova, “Blue Heaven” analyzes the relationships among a mother, daughter and grandmother living in the lovely Slovak countryside, while burrowing into the mistakes and failings that haunt all three. Pic boasts terrific performances and helmer shows promise, but outside of some overseas fest dates, pic is unlikely to break out of its home markets.

Middle-aged, divorced Marta (Emilia Vasaryova) makes her living tending to her small-scale pottery-making business, but most of her time is taken up raising her teenage daughter, Alica (Slavka Halcakova), and caring for her dotty, aging mother (Zita Kabatova). Marta is clearly going through an extreme midlife crisis, which isn’t helped by Alica’s wild trysts with her beau of the moment or by her mother’s incorrigible zest for dressing up in theatrical garb from decades past and stomping about in life-threatening high heels.

Over the course of the pic, the three women interact, alternately loving and supporting one another and testing that affection by their tantrums, mood swings and unorthodox behavior. When a family tragedy intrudes on their inter-generational homestead, the three women begin to understand the mutuality of their plight.

Film’s shortcomings are primarily in the script department, which fails to sustain the overly long running time. Points are made, then revisited and once more reemphasized, so that the weight of redundancies and sluggish dramatics ultimately stretches the material too thin. Borusovicova deftly creates a sense of place and space in the limited farmhouse setting, and her work with the thesps indicates a surprising maturity and sensitivity for someone barely out of film school.

Aside from showcasing a bright new directing talent, “Blue Heaven” boasts a first-rate performance by Vasaryova as the mother torn between two generations and by her own barely suppressed bitterness about life. Production values are first-rate. Among the film’s assets is the charming, folk-tinged score by Czech pop star (and former Patti Smith Group member) Ivan Kral. Lensing by Dodo Simoncic takes full, colorful advantage of the Slovak scenery and changes of season that accompany the coming of wisdom.

Blue Heaven

Slovakian - Czech

Production

A Charlie's (Bratislava)/In Film (Prague) production, in association with Czech Television, Slovak Television and Bontonfilm Alfa. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Rudolf Biermann. Directed by Eva Borusovicova. Screenplay, Jana Skorepova.

Crew

Camera (color), Dodo Simoncic; editor, Jiri Brozek; music, Ivan Kral; art direction, Ales Votava; costume design, Lea Fekete. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 8, 1997. Running time: 103 MIN

With

Alica Slavka Halcakova Eiska Zita Kabatova Marta Emilia Vasaryova Juraj Milan Mikulcik Jozef Janos Ban Viktor Jan Kacerl
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