Sep 29, 2015 7:00 PM
Something Like Happiness
Film sreening. Something Like Happiness (Štěstí), 2005, 100 min, directed by Bohdan Sláma.
The restless, hard-drinking characters in Bohdan Sláma's drama "Something Like Happiness" live in a grubby housing development in a small, ugly industrial city in the Czech Republic. Because many still occupy the apartment building where they grew up together, these longtime neighbors enjoy the communal intimacy of an extended family. Many work in the same factory, which offers steady, dull, low-wage employment.
The film's two main characters, Toník (Pavel Liška) and Monika (Tatiana Vilhelmová), are decent, good-hearted people who have known each other since childhood. Toník, a sensitive sad sack, ekes out a living as a mechanic, carpenter and plasterer. Monika has a boyfriend who, as the movie begins, leaves for the United States, where he has been offered a job. But once he is there, will he send for her? And if he does, will she have the courage to tear herself away from a life that is far from perfect but familiar with many deep ties? Upstairs in the same building lives Dasha (Anna Geislerová), a distraught young mother of two unruly children, whose husband, Jára (Marek Daniel), is driving her crazy with his infidelities. When Dasha is hospitalized for depression, Toník and Monika step in as surrogate parents. "Something Like Happiness" might be described as a Czech slice of life from a society where economic hardship necessitates a communal closeness that reflects the lingering legacy of Communism. If these characters often go out of their way to help each other, they also share a common despair born of limited expectations. Monika, whom Toník has loved unrequitedly since childhood, is torn between the dream of escape and staying to accept Tonik's devotion and reliability. "Something Like Happiness" is well acted, but its storytelling is as rough-hewn as its characters, who chafe at each other while pulling together to create a livable existence in a joyless environment. — Stephen Holden
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Sep 29, 2015 7:00 PM