Take a Drink: for the hat
Take a Drink: for intense sex sessions
Take a Drink: for photos
Take a Drink: for Soviet persecution
Take a Drink: whenever Daniel Day-Lewis casts a seductive glance
Take a Drink: whenever he uses a douchey pickup artist movie like negging
Take a Drink: whenever Juliette Binoche does something impossibly cute
Do a Shot: for peeping toms
Do a Shot: for Mephisto!
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a film based on the hauntingly beautiful novel by Czech writer Milan Kundera. Judging from Philip Kaufman’s filmed version, the title can refer to a host of things- the inherent absurdity of life, the diaphanous nature of memory, or that feeling you get when you’ve been banging a lot… like all day.
You feel pretty light after losing all of those bodily fluids.
The film is about a love triangle of sorts between a rakish horndog doctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), a sensual artiste (Lena Olin), and a innocent small town girl (Juliette Binoche), set against the backdrop of the height of Czech Bohemianism, and the encroaching Soviet takeover that would spell its end.
While Kundera wasn’t entirely pleased with this adaptation, Kaufman clearly gives it his all, and in the process makes the story into something his own- hypersexual, full of small absurdities, but observant and empathetic. He and Sven Nyqvist (Ingmar Bergman’s long-time cinematographer) bring the world of 1960s Prague to beautifully realized life even though they couldn’t shoot in the real Prague (Lyon, France stood in). In particular, the way they incorporate real contemporary footage of the Prague Spring, the Soviet’s forceful takeover of the city, into the film is both ingenious and nearly seamless.
Forrest Gump ain’t got nothing on this.
As well made (and soundtracked) as the film is, it really belongs to its actors. Day-Lewis brings a devilish charm to the role unlike anything else he’s been in (Pimp Lincoln would have been an interesting direction…), creating a character that’s almost Shame-level addicted to sex, but who you almost can’t blame considering how easily and often seems to literally drop in his lap. As the film, and his relationship with the much more traditional-minded Binoche, progresses, though, he finds himself evolving in ways even he can’t understand, ready to commit to, even sacrifice for another human being.
Lena Olin at first seems to be his perfect foil, refusing to be pinned down, reveling in her physicality, while Binoche seems destined to be a fling, a manic pixie dream girl dialed up to 11, possibly mentally challenged, but incredibly fetching in her naivety. She, not Olin, is the one who really grows, though, maturing as a person and as an artist with fiercely-held ideals when challenged. The highlight of the film has to be the relationship between these two ladies, who both love Day-Lewis in their own way, and in a late scene, find an acceptance of that, and a newfound (and rather kinky) appreciation of each other.
Some of the acting, in particular Binoche’s, can stray over the top here and again. I have no idea what sex with the real Binoche is like, but if it’s anything like in this movie, it must be terrifying.
Fifty Shades of Crazy
The rampant sex scenes are certainly titillating, but the sheer amount of them starts to feel like padding… and at 171 minutes the last thing this movie needs is more padding. The final act also drags along. I’m not sure the ten minutes of Day-Lewis and Binoche’s dog dying of cancer were strictly necessary, for example.
Even Marley & Me was less needlessly manipulative than this shit… *sniff*
While it’s certainly a bit longer than it needs to be, what The Unbearable Lightness of Being gets right, it gets very right- it’s a genuinely sexy, genuinely poignant character piece with some dynamite performances.