Alois Nebel - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Alois Nebel Reviews

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November 30, 2016
Alois Nebel is definitely visually inspired with excellent black and white animation accompanied with such a good atmosphere to it, but the film is never particularly interesting to watch, the characters are forgettable and the plot isn't the greatest. It is well made, but too boring and specific.
½ March 3, 2015
The animation is extremely life-like and effective throughout its minimalist approach. The story is its weaker part and you have to stick with it to get to the crux of what happened in the past and its relevance to the winds of change happening in Czechoslavakia at the time it is set.
December 13, 2013
Stylistically strong and tonally mysterious. A clever and thought-provoking animated film noir--Astonishing animated art-house drama!!
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2013
A morose Czech train dispatcher is haunted by memories of a German woman who was deported after World War II when he was a boy. In shadowy, noirish black and white animation, this is an interesting-looking picture, but unfortunately it's hampered by a gloomy minimalist plot where almost nothing seems to happen, but the story still manages to confuse.
½ October 21, 2012
Based on a graphic novel trilogy from Czech artists Jaroslav Rudis and Jaromi­r 99 (who also write the screenplay), filmmaker Tomas Lunak's debut movie Alois Nebel is an existential rotoscopy animation about identity and disconnect. Film noir mystique filtered through Buñuel-like surrealism, its narrative problems dont stop you from being compelled by the lusciously rich visuals.

Alois Nebel is the name of our dour hero, voiced and embodied on screen by Miroslav Krobot (who previously delighted in Bela Tarr's The Man From London). Alois is a decoy protagonist, with his significance in the film's overarching narrative being incidental; yet it is through his fractured perspective that the story unfolds.

An ageing guard at a baron train station, his life is as routine as the locomotives that pass him. At least, that's what his stoney-faced exterior leads the people around him to think. Behind it all, he is tormented by hallucinations of his childhood: stripped from the clutches of his mother in Nazi-occupied Prague.

Back in the present day, the only tangible narrative thread is the story of The Mute (Karel Roden), a silenced man who is chased over the Polish border carrying an axe, an old photograph, and skeletons in the proverbial closet. When Alois' nightmares start to become more vivid, and his co-worker wants to steal his job, he is thrown into a local mental asylum. Bunking with The Mute, the pair form a taciturn relationship which will suffer grave consequences once they escape the ward.

Although there are further plot developments that help, I found Alois Nebel a difficult, confusing film to engage with. There are so many ways that director Lunak obfuscates the plot. Firstly, its already an illusory story filled with contextual flashbacks and flash forwards, and two central characters (one an actual mute) who barely speak a word between them. Even when they are dominating the screen, the rotoscoped animation makes it incredibly difficult to register any facial expression or emotion (a problem that Linklater got around by making his actors exacerbate their movements in his rotscopic animation movie A Scanner Darkly). If you really want to 'get' Alois Nebel, having an extensive knowledge of the Czech Republic slang, rural locations, folklore and the relationship with Nazi Germany in WW2 may come as an advantage, as Lunak certainly isn't giving us any expository tips.

Regardless of these plotting and cognition problems, Alois Nebel is a stunning mood piece. That mood may be glum, but the beautiful, Waltz With Bashir style rotoscopy is alluring from the very opening scene of a train sluggishly approaching the screen, right through to the unyielding shots of an inmate being lobotomised in the asylum. It's pure aesthetic vision, and Petr Kruzik's moody score often helps lay on some emotional attachment to it all, even if we fail to understand what the hell is going on.

I should clarify, my problems aren't in being confused with the plot, but confused by the point or directorial message of the whole thing. Is it style over substance? Looking at individual sequences in the film, I'd disagree- the visuals really are that breathtaking. As a whole film, however, Alois Nebel coasts on the comic book-like design, and in the process deals with it's war-time story a little too impersonally, or unjustly. In the end, at a slight 84 minutes running time, Alois Nebel's canvas will certainly draw you in.

Yes, that was a pun. Fuck you, pun haters.
½ October 9, 2012
lowsy pacing, hard to follow, ok story once you figure it out
September 26, 2012
A mute stranger appears on a small train station managed by Alois, an introverted man who is run past by time. So begins a beautiful, deeply melancholic but somewhat tedious animation "Alois Nebel," a film with heavy themes of war and the pain of survival.

Director Tomás Lunák offers somber tones and quiet moments that convey the emptiness the characters feel keenly. On the other hand the narrative isn't all that dynamic. This is beautiful stuff, but as its strength lies in emotion more than in analysis, one might have expected the presentation to be a bit more potent.
September 2, 2012
Dour monochrome animation of Czech post-WWII pawn past, seen through stationmaster finding love. Drab, if stylish, slog.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2012
This Czech film has an intriguing premise along with outstanding visuals and animation. It Follows a train dispacher and his affairs with the world and people he meets and deals with during and after WWII; as you can see it follows a noir tradition we could crave. It could of had the potential to be great, but it falls short with its storytelling with very dreary pacing, and incoherrent plotting. Perhaps I wasn't too open while watching this, actually feeling I've lost sense of the plot. I may of misjudged it, but didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
½ August 7, 2012
Billed as a noirish animation, this story of lingering ww2 demons doesn't quite deliver, either emotionally or technically.
May 22, 2012
Understated film, but some really nice rotoscoped animation.
½ March 23, 2012
Very high quality 2D animation.
½ December 26, 2011
Visually stunning animated film from the Czech Republic about a lonely train dispatcher haunted by memories of his past. The story itself was a little hard to follow, but the gorgeous rotoscope black and white animation makes it worth a look, and maybe a second viewing.
½ December 4, 2011
I hate it when people make a bad movie and they think that by turning it into an animated one will make it better. Truth be told, the style of animation was the only interesting thing in this slow-paced and disinteresting piece of film. There was nothing essential in it, and the director chose to make a film about something that no one really would ever care about. Very gloomy and atmospheric, but it's one of those films no one ever watches, and those who do, forget they ever did.
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