Of Parents and Children



Venue: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic -- An aging and cantankerous father and his devoted but conflicted son chat, argue, drink, reminisce and rehash old differences while strolling through Prague in Czech director Vladimir Michalek's rewarding drama "Of Parents and Children." Paced leisurely but conveying rich characterizations with a contrasting subplot involving the younger man's girlfriend and a son he never knew, the film should be well received in European art houses and on the festival circuit.

Josef Somr, as the dad, and David Novotny, as the son, work considerable magic as they banter and tease each other on the day they spend together every three weeks. Mum died many years ago after taking the boy and marrying a Bolshevik numbskull during Czechoslovakia's Soviet domination.

There are still secrets to be shared about what happened, though, as forgotten resentments resurface while the two of them wander through the streets and parks of Prague. Somr can switch quickly from being stern to openly affectionate while Novotny's tough-guy looks mask a sympathetic vulnerability.

The womanizing son and the lonely father share tall tales about fatal women and nasty ailments that they know will spark a reaction in the other. Finally, the son reveals that an old girlfriend has informed him that he fathered a now-grown boy and while he frets over being a father, the old man contemplates being the grandfather he never expected to be.

Meanwhile, the younger man's current girlfriend is visited by the newly discovered offspring. Since he resembles her lover closely, although 20 years his junior their meeting becomes increasingly complex.

Based on a novel by Emil Hakl, the film is necessarily episodic. Yet thanks to sturdy filmmaking, some very funny moments and fine performances, one experiences a growing attachment to the characters.

Production: Open Field Pictures. Cast: Josef Somr, David Novotny, Mariana Kroftova, Lubos Kostelny. Director: Vladimir Michalek. Screenwriters: Vladimir Michalek, Emil Hakl, Jiri Krizan. Based on the novel by: Emil Hakl. Producers: Michael Smrek, Jan Dobrovsky. Director of photography: Martin Strba. Production designer: Martin Vackar. Music: Michal Lorenc. Editor: Jiri Brozek. ales agent: AQS.

No rating, 112 minutes.