When the Russian army invades Prague in 1968, Ales quits his government post for a small-town job away from scrutiny. But even here he finds that politics dictate life’s comfort level: Sans party membership, the family finds its new living quarters are merely the summer porch of a locked house. It takes Kvido to save the day, by orating a poem in praise of Lenin at school.
Toeing the line at work, Ales gets to go on foreign business trips, and even has a romantic dalliance. Meanwhile, Kvido pursues romance with his childhood sweetheart. When Ales is demoted to gatekeeper because of a latenight meeting with a dissident playwright, Milena suggests to Kvido that a grandchild would pull Pop out of his funk. The ruse works, but pic ends on an ironic note.
The dialogue by scripter Jan Novak (co-writer with Milos Forman of “Valmont”) captures the witty essence of novelist Michal Viewegh’s black comedy, though the pic often falls short on the visual side: The leads’ makeup, for instance, barely ages them over nearly 30 years, stretching credibility. Otherwise, tech credits are workmanlike and solid, in line with Nikolaev’s directing.