This romantic yet ironic story centers around Hastrman alias Baron de Caus (Karel Dobrý), whose love towards girl Katynka (Simona Zmrzlá) from the countryside brings him an unexpected happiness and also a great passion. Hastrman returns with his servant (Jiří Lábus) from travels around the world and he’s here to restore ponds on his estate. His life of a modern and enlightened man differs from the life of the local people. Reeve’s (David Novotný) extraordinary daughter Katynka is the centerpiece of Hastrman’s interest. She’s revolting against the authorities with passionate worship of nature and pagan rituals. This smart and beautiful girl has enchanted everyone, even teacher Voves (Jiří Maryško) and pastor Fidelius (Jan Kolařík). The more Katynka approaches Hastrman, the more he doubts, whether he is a man in the body of a beast or a beast in a man.
I was very curious to see the film director's debut, as Ondřej Havelka is a good actor and theater director. The last year was so bad for Czech films that I appreciate any original theme. And this film was something I have been waiting for such a long time. For me, it hit the bull's eye. Mr. Havelka with his Czech beating heart gave life to this mysterious story, and I was very pleased with the result. I got everything I expected, and maybe even more.
First of all, the main character is played by an excellent actor with great charisma. Karel Dobrý makes the film in honor of his surname (Dobrý means good in English), which I can apply to his performance as well. I felt a great sadness, desire for happiness and love from the main character. Unfortunately fate doesn’t want him to be happy. Exquisite exteriors and camera, breathtaking and captivating soundtrack, costumes and overall flawless set design. And last but not least, the flow of emotions and then flummox, just as I like it.
Among the negatives I have to mention that although the film was very exciting, there is still some ambiguity that Havelka didn’t think through. The speed is sometimes unnecessarily lazy and some dialogues seemed more theatrical.
Nevertheless, the film is unique in the local context.
It is impressive and in some ways hypnotic. After this year's Czech utter crippling film failures, finally, our cinematography is enriched by something I can enjoy watching. I have something to think about and I will not forget this film for a long time.