“The screenings are part of the touring retrospective JURAJ HERZ: IN & OUT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE, produced by Comeback Company, curated by Irena Kovarova, originated at Metrograph, New York. Films and stills provided by the Czech National Film Archive. Film notes by Nick Pinkerton/Metrograph.”
Iva Janžurová and Petr Čepek are peerless as miserably married cousins in Herz’s early 20th century period piece, set in a provincial town, Jilemnice, that’s riven by repressed desire and smoldering secrets. Adapting Jaroslav Havlíček’s novel, Herz plumbs deep within the psychology of his characters—Čepek’s syphilitic groom, unable to consummate the wedding and rapidly losing his mind; Janžurová’s disappointed bride, robbed of the family of her dreams—in this gripping and gorgeous film, which investigates the rot beneath the decoration and decorum of the Secession era.