The joy of the Czech comedy Přišla v noci was short-lived. In cinemas, it is replaced by a cold shower called How to Survive Your Man. It calls itself a romantic comedy, but there is nothing to laugh about, except to cry. Its content and humor are as shallow as the poster that entices the film.
Jana Bernášková is looking for a job and a man in the role of Lucie
| Photo: courtesy of Bontonfilm
In the beginning new Czech comedies How to Survive Your Man was a successful work of the same name by the actress Jana Bernášková. The heroine of the slightly autobiographical book is trying to return to her acting career after maternity leave and at the same time is looking for a new partner. She also has to deal with her ex-husband, who does not make her new situation any easier.
Lucie in the movie is also experiencing hardships after a life break – divorced, recently moved, with a young daughter, she is looking for new security, men and acting offers. Her ex-husband and the father of her daughter get involved, potential partners usually turn out to be liars or cheats. He solves his problems most often winepossibly with female friends, but mainly with my other, materialized self, the so-called Šedivka.
How to Survive Your Man (2023) – trailer:
At best, it could have been another one of a dozen domestic comedies cut from the same template. But it’s worse. The author of the adapted screenplay and debutant director Rudolf Merkner did not understand the rules of the genre, so he offers a kind of sequence of images completely without points, situational humor and funny dialogues.
In addition, he complicated the situation by casting the author of the original, an actress, and thus his wife in the main role Jana Bernášková, which is mixed with any hints of humor or natural acting. Most of the time he just rolls his eyes wide open, purses or opens his lips in the shape of a big O (see the poster) and shows perfect white teeth (yes, he certainly has a top dentist), tosses his blond hair and raises his eyebrows, possibly a glass of red, sometimes he laughs hysterically . It is far from a comedic performance, as a convulsive affect it is flawless.
An unbearable spectacle
From the point of view of the plastic, squirming heroine – who unfortunately does not get off the screen and sometimes tries to make comments in style Sex in the city – thus soon becomes an unbearable and boring spectacle.
Already the opening moving scene with a couch into a house without an elevator, after which Lucie is still out of the box and ready to go on the catwalk, suggests that her anabasis will continue in this boring spirit. The dialogues are, in a word, hell, sentences like “Why didn’t I know you before, love?”, “I’m not in the mood for romantic attempts” or “I’m one big ugh” are pouring out of the screen…
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The chemistry between the main actress and her partners doesn’t work, rather, looking at the awkwardness of her actions in front of the camera, one wonders why Tomáš Měchaček or Marek Němec should have been at all interested in this familiarity in the spirit of their characters. Attempts to have a bit of sex turn out the same, the director of the given scene unfortunately does not know how to direct, the most grotesque sound is ex-marital intercourse at home on the table. No matter what the actors and the director do, not a single erotic spark jumps on the screen. Where else can you portray her, when even the phrase “Do it to me!” is pronounced by Bernášková with the expression of a restrained, cold barbie.
In short, almost everything is bad here – shallow screenplay, lack of humor, awkward protagonist, clueless direction. A lot can be forgiven for a debut. However, the fact that Rudolf Merkner does not feel the fakeness of the actor’s actions (which also concern Pavla Dostálova, the heroine’s pregnant friend) cannot be forgiven.
Jana Benášková and Roman ZachSource: courtesy of Bontonfilm
The rest of the good cast does what they can in the assigned type boxes and with a simple-minded, unfunny script, they don’t have much space. This applies both to Roman Zach as the heroine’s ex-husband, and to Ivana Chylkova in the role of Šedivka, whose remarks are at least occasionally a little amusing, but whose potential the film did not fully utilize. The performance of the representative of the little daughter is also unnatural, but it would be folly to expect an experienced guide of a child in front of the camera in this trigger. The most eye-catching is Bernášková’s convulsive acting performance in her interaction with Marko Němec, who, unlike her, is natural.
Parody? Unfortunately, no
The creators’ attempt to combine romance and humor simply misses the mark, and it doesn’t matter at all if it is accompanied by faint piano notes or the unnatural laughter of the fumbling protagonist. The only thing he looks good at are the shots of Prague cinematographer Nicolas Bordier, but the question is why, with all due respect for his work, a Frenchman was needed when Czech film has so many good cameramen. But maybe the picture was simply meant to look more worldly.
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Actually, How to Survive Your Man could have been a pretty nice parody – to which, by the way, some of the lines are a bit misleading. But it isn’t. Maybe the book model works better and the readers had fun with it. For example, in scenes from indecent castings. But any possible humor of the film adaptation is reliably killed by the performance of the lead actress.
Even the “eye” mouth on the stylized poster is ultimately quite out of place, because when you look at it, you can’t help but remember the same grin in the movie Scream. But that was a horror story. So even here, completely next to it.
Rating of the Journal: 20 percent