The Mutt and Jeff of Czech comedy, vets Bolek Polivka (“Divided We Fall”) and Marian Labuda (“The Garden”), keep the lightweight Gypsy road movie “Roming” headed in the right direction over potentially bumpy terrain. Though it often plays dangerously close the Romany stereotypes it purports to be spoofing, pic is big-hearted enough to have repped the Czech Republic at the Toronto fest and was warmly embraced at home during its June 2007 run.
Labuda plays practical Roman, busy writing a Romany epic to rival the Ring Cycle. The story is about failed Gypsy Somali (Jean Constantin), who’s been cast out of his imaginary community for actually holding a job, and who visits Roman in his dreams.
As a young man, Roman made a deal with profane pal Stano (Polivka) to pair his son Jura (Vitezslav Holub) with Stano’s daughter. Jura, now an assimilated college student, and Roman are dismayed when drunk and disorderly Stano shows up to make good on the deal. The trio then embark across the Czech Republic and into Slovakia via rickety truck, encountering all manner of fraternity and hostility along the way.
Prolific helmer Jiri Vejdelek, whose “Holiday Makers” and “Vaclav” impressed as fully developed character studies, displays the same generous spirit here. To Western eyes, there’s little or no cruelty in his portrayal of Roma lifestyle, with pic scoring resonant points on prejudice and marginalization. “There are no small nations,” someone says, “only small people,” and that’s a tidy summation of pic’s raison d’etre.
Tech credits are crisp. Leads speak a particular Czech dialect reflecting the culture.