The Unbearable Lightness of Being Reviews
Kaufman's direction is very smooth, he goes from one significant event to another with ease, including the introduction of new characters. Binoche delivers the best performance from a great cast, she is a child and a woman at the same time, and is so incredibly charming in her vulnerability. I don't wish to reveal her position in the film and her relationship with the two other characters. Although I've read about the nuances of the film's characters, I still have a difficult time fully understanding them in my head, particularly Tomas. He is a mystery to me, Sabina is in between, and Tereza opens her heart to the viewer (preferably me). Also I'm not sure why Kaufman doesn't provide any background or family relations, we only get to see Tereza mention her mother; we never actually see her. It's the only reason I can think of that prevents it from being a great film; Kaufman's decision to never explain anything or to at least make things clearer. I am all for films that don't spoon-feed, and this reason I am specifying isn't necessarily a complaint. I enjoyed a lot. It's ending shot is one of most serene you'll ever see.
P.S. Erland Josephson and Stellan Skarsgard have minor roles and Juliette Binoche's dog in the movie is named Kerenin after Anna Karenina's husband from Leo Tolstoy's novel of the same name. The dog is actually a female.
Now *this* is a sexy film, holy smoke- there's just sex everywhere. Daniel Day-Lewis has all the sex in this film. All. The. Sex. Anyway, there's more going on, namely politics and talking, yeah, those.
It's a long film but it didn't feel as long as it is- when a film gets to a certain length the slow pacing actually makes it feel a bit shorter than if it were three hours always going full-speed or two hours always at a snail's pace. That doesn't mean that the length isn't noticeable though- it is but it never feels right to punish a film for being long since that just means there's more of it and thus more to enjoy, in theory anyway.
I'd say that it is practice in this case too thanks to the strong acting, good writing and interesting story. It's very atypical of its genre, which I deem to be 'horny'. It has the drama, romance and relationships too at its heart rather than being a movie all about sex.
The other themes make for the back-drop and they are as stereotypically from-a-book (which was indeed the source material) as it comes. Set during the Prague Spring we have the common themes of escape, constant threat and deception to fit with the relationships involved, the key one being that between Tomas and Tereza.
Nothing feels very new about this one- a three-way relationship, a dog, jealousy- it's predictable in ways. The length actually helps make that from being an issue by having a lot of stuff going on in between these things- it keeps it flowing, even if that ultimately leads to the end feeling a bit undercooked because maybe hitting the three-hour mark in a romance would be going a bit far(?)
What does make this different is clear enough from its title alone- it's pretty well-delivered. The title comes from a Nietzschean concept that claims all of the world's events have already occurred and will continue to do so over and over again and thus the experience of life is a burdensome one. The lightness in the title suggests that in fact we only live one life and the sex throughout helps to suggest that love and lust are also light and often occur randomly, rather than being set in stone from the get-go.
The 'unbearable' likely refers to the fact that such conditions cannot be sustained and end in death but one could also argue that it represents the downsides of such a fickle way of existing and Tereza's emotions would give that argument some strength.
My point is that, the thought that went into the title went into this film also. Apparently, it takes a different approach to the book (the author vowed never to allow another film portrayal of his' works due to the different approach of this one to the original work) and I haven't read the book so I can't really say for myself but if the book is a fleshed-out version of this then I can only imagine that it's worth-reading. The detail here feels substantial and there feels like stand-out moments, the kind that only a book has the space to write and a film to work around.
The author stated that the film doesn't represent the spirit of the novel and I guess that means that the novel works on a deeper-level as its title would suggest. It may very well have been the right choice for the film not to go down that route though because failing to portray such ideas could be disastrous and by concentrating more on human relationships, by being more small-scale if you will, then this film gets the space it needs to be successful.
All that being said though, the film could have done with some re-working, it isn't as emotionally-involving as it should be and it is a little too consistent and static in its tone meaning that, even with strong performances, it lacks the necessary emotion at times.
It's a good film but no, it isn't the most interesting thing you'll ever find. It does however do a fantastic job in being sexy without substituting drama or depth to do so. Recommended if you are the kind who can take on a near-three-hour film, otherwise, I'd give it a miss as I can't imagine this film being particularly memorable or worthwhile if you can't stay connected enough to pick up those good, unique moments that pop up here and there.
Concequently, I believe that if you have some relaxing times,it is going to be good to watch this movie because it mights be a little boring to watch on the other times !
Putting that aside, Kaufman had a bad reception and still does. It's no flawless masterpiece and it's definitely not as deep as a novel, but it has some very interesting technical transitions and a lust impossible to resist. Erotic and powerful, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of the top movies of 1988, decently acted but perfectly pulled off. The invasion of the Soviet Union is the highest point in the film.