A coarse coming-of-ager from a country where that approach to the genre has garnered much coin in recent years, Czech drama “Dolls” goes where most Hollywood teen pics fear to tread in its close-to-explicit depiction of sexual awakening and late-teen horseplay. Awarded the Finale Plzen fest’s main prize on the strength of debuting helmer Karin Babinska’s impassioned approach to the material, pic will play fests but won’t travel far theatrically.
Three 18-year-old coeds (Petra Nesvacilova, Sandra Novakova, Marie Dolezalova) decide a road trip to Holland is in order on the late-summer eve of more adult endeavors. Tagging along is one of the girls’ kid brother (Oldrich Hajlich), who bears witness to nude bathing, Sapphic experimentation and various identity crises. “Nobody’s keeping an eye on anybody,” is their oft-repeated mantra, with various heartaches explained by the eternally adolescent logic, “Everything’s screwy anyway.” Babinska pulls heartfelt, fearless perfs from her often nude leads, with kudos going to Nesvacilova, who gained weight to play Vendula, the caustic yet vulnerable fulcrum of the group. Tech credits are fine in that free-wheeling Czech style, typified by Martin Douba’s vigorous HD lensing.