Review: ‘Victims And Murderers’

We are all somebody's victim," an emotionally tortured half-sibling says ominously near the beginning of "Victims and Murderers." This dark sentiment is at the heart of writer-director Andrea Sedlackova's offbeat and absorbing family melodrama with thriller overtones.

We are all somebody’s victim,” an emotionally tortured half-sibling says ominously near the beginning of “Victims and Murderers.” This dark sentiment is at the heart of writer-director Andrea Sedlackova’s offbeat and absorbing family melodrama with thriller overtones. Presence of “15 Minutes” bad guy Karel Roden in the lead could attract attention outside the regular fest circuit, with modest ancillary life a good bet.

In 1970s Policka, a small town in former Czechoslovakia, young Jana (Monika Hilmerova) and her half-brother, Miroslav (Vladimir Skultety), cause the death of their father, who discovered their incestuous relationship. Now grown, the pair (Ivana Chylkova, Roden) are locked in psycho-sexual combat that involves their partners and plays out in counterpoint with episodes from their youth. But the choices they made nearly three decades ago continue to haunt them, leading to a tragic final reckoning. Composed in the spirit of Hitchcock and Sirk, Sedlackova’s debut is played with gusto by the four leads. Technically, pic is fine, and extracts from Policka native Bohuslav Martinu’s musical oeuvre play a pivotal role in the narrative.

Victims And Murderers

Czech Republic

Production

A Warner Bros. release (in Czech Republic) of a Proart production in association with Czech TV, Artcam Intl., JMH. (International sales: Proart, Prague.) Produced by Daniel Zavorka. Directed, written by Andrea Sedlackova.

Crew

Camera (color), Miro Gabo; editor, Boris Machytka; music, works by Bohuslav Martinu; art director, Milan Bycek; costume designer, Tatana Kovarikova. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Czech Films), July 12, 2001. Original title: Obreti a vrazi. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Karel Roden, Ivana Chylkova, Monika Hilmerova, Vladimir Skultety, Veronika Jenikova, Jan Kroner, Bohumil Klepl, Daniela Kolarova, Jan Sedal, Simona Stasova, Jiri Stepnicka.
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