“Razor Blades,” an interminable examination of the raw emotional state of a young Czech, set in both 1984 and post-Velvet Revolution 1994, features soaring passages of communicative beauty and indelible distress. But although the proceedings are always lensed with a skilled eye toward formal composition, only fest auds with stamina are likely to warm to pic’s protracted self-indulgence. Mix of morosity, pretention and genuine artistry points to a helmer of obvious talent who could use some solid advice about pacing and iffy symbolism.
Proceedings, which switch to vivid color at certain intense moments but are presented primarily in slightly tinted B&W, commence in 1984 under the heading “Everything Is True.”
Longhaired Andrej, age 21, is torn between two women — Eva, whom he has treated badly, and Krystina, a ravishing redhead. Andrej broods and drinks massive quantities of liquor because he does not want to do his stint in the Czech military.
Krystina demands that Andrej go AWOL in order to rescue her from the ogreish man with whom she lives in a penthouse, and the young man begins to crack under the compound strain of his rotten environment and his romantic dismay.
In pic’s physically and visually daring central set piece, Andrej climbs a towering smokestack in the bleak dead of winter and then, beset by vertigo and indecision, remains clinging to it for hours in the freezing wind, torn by fear and the abstract beauty of swirling snowflakes. Aerial lensing is splendid and Andrej’s predicament feels absolutely genuine.
When 1994 arrives, the screen announces that “Everything’s In Color.” Andrej has traded in the loony bin for a peaceful country cottage, but there’s a bafflingly stagy coda yet to come.
Corny operatic conclusion finds Andrej reclaiming one of the women’s inert bodies and soaring past a guy in a devil costume to waltz into the cosmos. Obtrusive exercise concludes with a poem about razor blades set against a starry sky.