3 Seasons in Hell

Best suited for upscale audiences with knowledge of Euro history, pic could find further fest play.

With:
With: Krystof Hadek, Karolina Gruszka, Martin Huba, Jan Kraus, Tomasz Tyndyk, Lubos Kostelny, Tana Pauhofova, Miroslav Krobot.

Inspired by leftist poet Egon Bondy’s autobiography “The First Ten Years,” debuting Czech helmer-writer Tomas Masin’s “3 Seasons in Hell” is a sumptuous-looking film a clef set in post-WWII Prague. In 1947, the insufferable protagonist joins a bohemian intellectual scene that comes to no good when the communists take power in 1948. Best suited for upscale audiences with knowledge of Euro history, pic could find further fest play. The $4 million-plus production did only modest biz when it was released on Czech screens in November.

Arrogant 19-year-old writer Ivan Heinz (Krystof Hadek) delights in shocking others with his scatological scribblings and unconventional behavior. Attracted to wild bisexual Jana (played by Russian thesp Karolina Gruszka, dubbed by Czech actress Tatiana Vilhelmova), Ivan finally consummates their relationship after much frustrating (on his part) foreplay. A long midsection comprised of the couple’s Sturm und Drang reps the least interesting part of film. Previously known for his prize-winning commercials, helmer Masin brings a visual exuberance to the material that marks him as talent to watch; the superb cinematography, richly detailed production design and catchy score compel even when the narrative and performances do not.

3 Seasons in Hell

Czech Republic-Germany-Slovakia

Production: A Falcon release (in Czech Republic) of a Dawson Prods./Babelsberg Film/Trigon Prods. production with the support of the Czech State Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography, Media, Eurimages, Ministry of Culture Slovakia. (International sales: the Yellow Affair, Helsinki.) Produced by Monika Kristl. Executive producer, Jasmina Torbati. Directed, written by Tomas Masin, based on Egon Bondy's autobiography "The First Ten Years."

Crew: Camera (color), Karl Oskarsson; editor, Petr Turyna; music, Filip Jelinek; production designer, Martin Kurel; costume designer, Katarina Holla. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 5, 2010. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Krystof Hadek, Karolina Gruszka, Martin Huba, Jan Kraus, Tomasz Tyndyk, Lubos Kostelny, Tana Pauhofova, Miroslav Krobot.(Czech dialogue)

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