Film of the Alternative cinema: Authors' Collections series

Original title: Príbehy obycejného sílenství
Czech Republic / Germany / Slovakia — 2005
Runtime: 100 min

Director: Petr Zelenka

Cast: Ivan Trojan, Zuzana Sulajová, Miroslav Krobot, Nina Divísková, Karel Hermánek, Petra Lustigova, Jirí Bartoska, Zuzana Bydzovská, Jana Hubinská, Jirí Bábek

A morose freight worker at Prague's international airport, Peter Hanek (Ivan Trojan) still pines for love Jana (Zuzana Sulajova) after six months, even as his stodgy father David (Miroslav Krobot) finds escape from Peter's flighty mother (Nina Diviskova) via a close friendship with free-spirited sculptor Sylvia (Petra Lustigova). As these dramas are playing out, Peter's being paid on the side to watch new neighbors Alice (Zuzana Bydzovska) and Jerry (Jiri Bartoska) have sex. “Hey, it's a job like any other,” he tells Jana.

Adapted from Zelenka's immensely popular 2001 stage play “Tales of Common Insanity” and retaining that original Czech title, pic's trip from stage to screen offers an interesting glimpse into Zelenka's working methods. A play full of wryly comic despair becomes a movie of mellow eccentricities and cautious hope, suggesting the filmmaker understands and embraces the differences between his domestic audience and an international one.