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SLIFF 2016 Review - HOME CARE - We Are Movie Geeks

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SLIFF 2016 Review – HOME CARE

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HOME CARE— the Czech Republic’s submission to last year’s Academy Awards — examines the finality of human existence through a tender portrayal of Viasta, a dedicated home-care nurse who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Trudging through the countryside, Vlasta faithfully attends her capricious patients and devotes loving attention to her husband and daughter. But one night, as she treks home in the rain, an accident leads to a discovery that will permanently alter her family’s quiet routine. Drama and gentle humor intertwine as Vlasta realizes, for the first time in her life, that she might need some care, too. “Home Care,” the feature debut of writer-director Slávek Horák, engagingly confronts the most important questions of life, examining the disconnect that grows among loved ones over the years and the desperation we all face when confronted with the realization that our time is limited. Variety writes: “Wryly humorous and bittersweet, ‘Home Care’ is an appealing humanist tale that puts a poignant spin on that perennial staple of the Czech cinema, the village dramedy.”

HOME CARE screens Monday November 7 at 4:30 PM and Thursday November 10 at 2:15 PM  as part of the 25th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. Both screenings are at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Theatre. Ticket information for the Nov 7th show can be found HERE, and for the Nov 10th show HERE.

Review of HOME CARE by Jim Batts

We’ve heard the phrase “Who watches the watchmen?” countless times, mainly from the celebrated graphic novel and its film adaptation. This film begs the question, “Who heals the healers?”, something that its main character Vlasta (Alena Mihulova) ponders. She’s the main bread-winner of the family, her hubby Lada (Bolek Polivka) runs a tiny “fix-it” shop in the garage. Vlasta spends the bulk of her days traveling by bus, and walking many blocks, in her job as a home care nurse tending to many low-income residents in and around her small Czech village. One day she misses her bus and calls Lada for a lift. Bemoaning the cost of gas, he refuses to drive out to her, so she begins the long, long walk home. Of course it starts to rain. Luckily a friend sees her and gives her a ride on his motorcycle. Unluckily, they get into an accident, and a trip to the hospital to mend minor injuries reveals lots of nasty spots on her X-ray. The diagnosis is dire, but Vlasta will not give in or give up. She begins a personal journey, taking a fitness class, visiting a new-age style healer, and even tries to restart the romance in her marriage. Vlasta continues her business just as she become her own patient.

Despite the often grim subject matter, writer/director Slovak Horak has created a life-affirming fable full of unexpected moments of warmth and whimsy. The story’s strength rests with the compelling lead performance of Mihulova. As Vlasta, we see the fatigue in her half-drawn eyes and stooped shoulders, enduring the put-downs of her hubby and her adult daughter. Somehow the bad medical news flips a switch inside her, a “restart button”  that turns her into a determined ball of energy. Mihulova has the perfect comic partner in the shuffling sad-faced Polivka, who feels that he’s now living with a completely different woman , one who demands affection rather than “wisecracks”. HOME CARE is a compelling look (especially in the final scenes of a festive wedding) at life in a charming little Czech town and its residents while shining g a spotlight on one woman’s “never say die” fighting spirit.

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.

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