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Over And Over

A leisurely, well-written and lustily played family satire in which two conniving brothers attempt to bilk their senile grandmother out of a choice cemetery plot, Petr Vachler's brash and daffy "Over and Over" could make theatrical rounds as a kind of subtitled "Meet the Parents." Pic led the pack on its home turf for five straight weeks upon fall 2005 release, and figures to do heavenly homevid.

With:
With: Jaroslav Dusek, Petr Ctvrtnicek, Marek Daniel, Lenka Krobotova, Vlasta Dusek, Vera Kresadlova, Olga Schmidtova, Valerie Vachlerova, Nela Boudova, Tomas Matonoha.

A leisurely, well-written and lustily played family satire in which two conniving brothers attempt to bilk their senile grandmother out of a choice cemetery plot, Petr Vachler’s brash and daffy “Over and Over” could make theatrical rounds as a kind of subtitled “Meet the Parents.” Pic led the pack on its home turf for five straight weeks upon fall 2005 release, and figures to do heavenly homevid.

Life’s a constant struggle for the pic’s blustery narrator, 40-ish cemetery caretaker Karel Muk (the ubiquitous and again elaborately coiffed Jaroslav Dusek). He’s a widower married for convenience to dead first wife’s best friend Tereza (Lenka Krobotova) and raising a daughter, Vali (Valerie Vachlerova).

In cahoots with successful older brother Robert (William H. Macy lookalike Petr Ctvrtnicek) and his brassy wife Vera (Nela Boudova), sibs hatch a plan to make money from the large tomb left to their frail granny Alzbeta (Olga Schmidtova).

Debuting helmer Petr Vachler takes his time with the material, but his anarchic attention never wanders. Result is somewhat like voyeuristically observing a family bordering on comic dysfunction, with all the arguments, reconciliations and shifting alliances that entails. Clearly given a brief to be as eccentric as possible within the story’s framework, the cast presents an ensemble web of tics and traits that sell their togetherness. Hefty percentage of the verbal jousting survives in precise subtitles.

Craft package in and around snowbound Prague manages to be colorful without sinking into garishness. Surreal CGI flourishes dot the tale, including phantom bunnies, talking statues and a helpful Jesus.

Pic was known as “Round & Round” in some English-language reviews out of Prague. Broken into syllables, clever Czech title literally means “into stupidity/oblivion,” though onscreen translation is non-literally accurate.

Over And Over

Czech Republic

Production: A Vachler Art Co. production, in association with Czech TV. Produced by Petr Vachler, Jaroslav Kucera, Petr Kral.. Executive producer, Ales Tybl. Directed by Petr Vachler. Screenplay, Jan Stehlik, Vachler.

Crew: Camera (color), Petr Hojda; editor, Boris Machytka; music, Roman Holy; production designer, Milan Bycek; costume designer, Alena Vaculikova; sound (Dolby Digital), Otto Chlpek. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, Australia, April 20, 2006. (In Finale Pilzen Film Festival -- non-competing.) Running time: 109 MIN.

With: With: Jaroslav Dusek, Petr Ctvrtnicek, Marek Daniel, Lenka Krobotova, Vlasta Dusek, Vera Kresadlova, Olga Schmidtova, Valerie Vachlerova, Nela Boudova, Tomas Matonoha.

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