The Unbearable Lightness of Being, written by Philip Kaufman and Jean-Claude Carriere, based on the novel by Milan Kundera
Perhaps the outstanding original material sets too high expectations for the adaptation, maybe there are some other reasons - including the strange manner of acting- for the disappointment felt by this viewer.
Notwithstanding this early conclusion, the motion picture has enjoyed great success, with two Academy Award nominations, for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and Best Cinematography- for the legendary Sven Nykvist.
There have been two Golden Globe nominations, for Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, which may make one think that these awards are indeed a sympathy show, for it may seem difficult to identify the merit in the performances.
Strangely, this includes in this personal perspective the God of cinema, Daniel Day Lewis, who is awkward in the title role.
Tomas is a doctor, defined by his obsession with women, a Casanova or Don Juan living in Czechoslovakia- not yet separated back then - who has a relationship with the artist Sabina, but it is an open affair, he sleeps with nurses and a multitude of other women.
He has to perform an operation in a small town, when a colleague is injured and this is where he meets Tereza, a waitress played by Juliette Binoche - very good generally, but artificial, unconvincing here.
As the doctor returns to Prague, he finds one evening at the door, the girl from the country, with Ana Karenina on her arm- the dog they would have would be called Karenin, for although it is a female, she has the look of a male, according to the hero.
There is a special attraction between the protagonists, but on one hand, the man is used with philandering and on the other, perhaps more importantly for a long term accommodation, there are big differences in education, interests, background that do not offer favorable odds.
The two get married, but the woman is jealous and plays a game wherein she says that she wants to meet the lovers Tomas sleeps with, she would give them a bath and get them ready for them.
A naughty viewer might laugh here and say that it is getting exciting, there would be threesomes and a ménage a trois is surely in the works.
Nonetheless, this was just a scheme and we could think of Games People Play, a psychology classic by Eric Berne, for the woman seems to be interested in catching the cheat and not in the bathing of rivals.
Outside events take a bigger role, for the Soviet tanks invade the country that had the courage to adopt a different style of the same communist horror system, only with a more humane face, more freedom and other paraphernalia.
Tereza had discovered a penchant and an eye for photography that she had used in some lurid scenes with...Sabina - these moments also appeared as examples of bad acting, forced gestures and ultimately unappealing games that were supposed to be erotic and so sensuous, when they are just bizarre and absurd.
As the Soviets occupy Czechoslovakia, the photographer is on the streets, recording all that she can, giving the material, rolls of film to visiting foreigners, only to find that much of it would be used by the Secret Police to identify dissidents.
Sabina and so many others decide they have had enough and take refuge in other countries, in her particular case in Switzerland, where she has a confrontation with a man who speaks to a gathering about continuing the fight against the oppressing regime, the occupation and the Soviets...
What fight are you talking about? Asks the brave, open minded, liberal artist
You are here!
If you wanted to fight, you would be in the country...or is it that you want others to do the fighting for you?
And she leaves, disgusted with talk about doing things...
Tomas, Tereza and Karenin drive their car - Skoda was both appreciated and mocked in several jokes - across the border and arrive in Switzerland, where the woman can only stay for a while, after which she feels she has to and returns home.
As aforementioned, this motion picture can be unsatisfactory, if one does not mind one of the rules of positive psychology:
Lower your expectations
To end with another argument in favor of this acclaimed film, it was included on The New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made List...