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.