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Up and Down (2004)

Cast: Petr Forman, Petr Forman, Emilia Vasaryova, more...
Director: Jan Hrebejk, Jan Hrebejk
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Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Germany, Czech, Crime, Eastern Europe
Running Time: 113 min.
Languages: German, Russian, Czech
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

The often uncomfortable bonds of family intersect with the wary political and social allegiances of the Czech Republic following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the end of Soviet occupation in this drama from director Jan Hrebejk and screenwriter Petr Jarchovsky. Goran and Milan (Zdenek Suchy and Jan Budar) are criminals who, while ferrying a truckload of illegal aliens into the Czech Republic, discover that one of their cargo has misplaced a baby; looking to turn a profit wherever they can, they sell the lost child to Lubos and Eman (Marek Daniel and Pavel Liska), two petty thieves who run a black-market adoption agency. Among Lubos and Eman's clients are Miluska and Frantisek (Natasa Burger and Jiri Machacek), a barren and lonely couple who are unable to adopt due to Frantisek's criminal record, which amounts to a bout of drunken foolishness during a soccer game. Meanwhile, Martin Horecky (Petr Forman) is a Czech expatriate living in Australia who comes home for a visit following the death of his father, who abandoned the family before Martin was born. Circumstances prove not to be especially welcoming for Martin; his mother (Emilia Vasaryova), who has become poisoned with race hate, invites two guests for his homecoming dinner, a half-sister he's never met (Kristyna Liska-Bokova) and her mother, who was once Martin's girlfriend (Ingrid Timkova). ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Rent It! A Virtually Unknown Classic by Scaramouche November 27, 2009 - 11:19 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Jan Hrebejk is one of the best directors working in film today. The way he captures life in post-Communist Prague is alternately hilarious, powerful, and poignant. There is a special quality in the sometimes dark Czech sense of humor and no one does it better than Hrebejk. Every performance is excellent. The films is really a treasure for the eyes, head, and heart. And the included documentary on the making of the film is both fun and informative.

Life Today, Czech-style by talltale July 25, 2005 - 8:50 AM PDT
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Rich, rich, rich: UP AND DOWN is director/co-writer Jan Hrebejk's first film to reach American shores since his masterful "Divided We Fall" a few years back. "Divided" was set during WWII; his new one--made in 2004--is as current as today's headlines. Unfortunately, it will probably remain "current" for a long while because it tackles subjects like immigration, emigration, race and intolerance, love and what--finally--makes up a family and/or a country. The movie takes an honest, intelligent and inclusive look at the state of Czechoslovakia today (and by extension, Europe, and by further extension the western world)--how it deals with complex issues such as crime, welfare and life post the Communist regime.

The film won a raft of awards in its native land and deserves a bunch more from any country willing to look hard at these issues. "Up and Down" is not a feel-good film, even though it cobbles together a disparate array of people, connecting them in ways similar to those of other lightweight comedy/romances. But it is neither an unduly negative film. Life is difficult, it shows us, but there is some hope, sometimes. Beautifully acted by its entire ensemble, the movie offers one unforgettable performance from Jiri Machacek as a security guard trying hard to hold on to some decency amidst more problems than anyone should have to handle.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.79)
14 Votes
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