Beauty in Trouble

Rated 4.0

Upon losing her home to the 2002 Prague floods, a young mother (Ana Geislerová) nearly drowns in family drama. Worse, she’s torn between sexually magnetic co-dependence with her car-thief husband (Roman Luknár) and pampered security with the older man whose Volvo he steals, a mannerly Czech expatriate (Josef Abrhám) now living quite well among the vineyards of Tuscany. Writer Petr Jarchovsk? and director Jan Hrebejk’s 2006 film takes a while to find its stride (and seems less hospitable to soundtrack songs from Glen Hansard than the later-made Once), but allows its top-notch cast free rein within their intelligently rich and unsentimental characterizations. In particular, Geislerová, whose stardom might soon catch on in America, and Jirí Schmitzer, as her creepy quasi-fascist stepfather, cover much ground in the craggy landscape of audience sympathy. For a class-conscious farce that’s at least serious enough to borrow its title from Robert Graves, it’s impressively unaffected and utterly watchable.