After a series of head-scratching television carambolas and blunders, such as the bizarre series Eliška and Damián or the failed Good News, the miniseries Bananas is a pleasant surprise and a superior television spectacle with good filmmaking, an interesting story and good fun. The Prima+ video library managed to bring a fresh breath of something new, original and above all young and for the young.
The story of Bananas is based on the infamous case, when several kilograms of coke were found among bananas in a town in the north of Bohemia. The eight-part miniseries was only inspired by a real story and comes with what would happen if a group from a Sudeten supermarket decided to start a drug business. And it must be added that the creators of the show did it perfectly.
Bananas largely takes place in a border supermarket, in which a shocking discovery interrupts the normal pre-Christmas morning. “Young storekeeper Jirka discovers contraband cocaine worth a hundred million in bananas from Colombia. Despite his initial doubts, he decides to start selling drugs, with the help of warehouse boss Šárka and security guard Iggy. After a series of unsuccessful attempts, the inexperienced trio builds a functional model of drug distribution directly at the cash register of the store through stuffed animals – rewards from the market’s loyalty event,” says the synopsis of the series, and over time, various problems and absolutely incredible plots begin to appear.
Moravec uses the uniform environment of a supermarket somewhere in the Sudetenland and a few shabby apartments, dirty night bars and shabby parking lots in the middle of the Christmas holidays. The script, which was written by a group of authors led by Tomáš Vávra and Jiří Sádek, relies mainly on strange and perverted characters, amusing exaggeration and is not afraid of craziness and a large amount of stylization. The trio of main characters, played by Sandra Nováková, Cyril Dobrý and Ondřej Malý, works excellently. They are funny, each different and different, but at the same time they complement each other artfully and without each other they would be absolutely incapable. Although maybe their “deal” would have turned out better if everyone operated for themselves. In any case, the chemistry of the actors works for the viewer, and the main “three” alone create a series of tragicomic situations that are cleverly devised and yet offer room for laughter, tears and drama. Marsell Bendig as a Sudeten pseudo-rapper from a small town, or Petra Horváthová, who played the role of a special criminal investigator who is searching for coke that was lost somewhere in Karlovy Vary, also played excellent parts in Banány.
Neons and fluorescent lights according to “Netflix poetics”
The cinematography of Antoan Pepelanov, who is not afraid of sharp and dramatic light contrasts, often uses glittering and neon stylizations is also worth highlighting. The camera indulges in long drives, manual shooting, and the image is based on the “Netflix poetics” of rich contrasts, flashy neons and ubiquitous fluorescent lights. This is also helped by the fact that a significant part of the series takes place in a supermarket and apartments, mostly in the middle of the night or without access to windows or exteriors. Thanks to this, the creators create a false audience feeling that the characters are constantly in some kind of danger. The merry-go-round of drug smuggling, finding dealers and buyers, sweeping coke in the warehouse, bagging, weighing and “cutting” alternates with the seemingly ordinary activities of the storekeeper in the store, such as refilling the baking soda they just used to dilute the drug substrate, or looking for a new saleswoman who, in addition to of classic “marking” also sell packages with “magic powder.”
Bananas also boasts an exceptional cut that perfectly matches the stylish camera and appropriately chosen music. The editor Kristína Krafčíková, who makes her debut in the field of feature films with the series Bananas, creates fast, frantic and energy-packed sequences of up to video clip-like editing. This is also helped by the short footage, where the parts are always around 20 minutes. Bananas is one of the best TV things that Prima has presented in recent years. The series is stylishly shot according to modern trends, tells a smart and entertaining story, the script is solid and the actors are a joy to watch. I have to say that after the great series Seven Steps to Power, which the Prima+ video library presented at the beginning of this year, Banáni is the best that Prima has filmed in the last few years. It is nothing new under the sun, but by Czech film – or rather television – standards, it is above average. Sometimes a little is enough, but Bananas is definitely worth the less than 4 hours of TV entertainment.