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  Blonde in Love, A Foolish Heart
Year: 1965
Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Hana Brejchová, Vladimír Pucholt, Vladimír Mensik, Ivan Kheil, Jirí Hrubý, Milada Jezková, Josef Sebánek, Josef Kolb, Marie Salacová, Jana Novaková, Jarka Crkalová, Tána Zelinková, Zdena Lorencová, Jan Vostrcil, Antonín Blazejovský
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andula (Hana Brejchová) is a young woman who works in a Czechoslovakian factory town, where most of the population are female, but being one of the most attractive there, she is not short of attention from the boys, or at least what boys there are. She sort of has a boyfriend who gave her a diamond, gold ring, which she wears and shows off to her friend in the dorm where she sleeps, and recounts that evening of the time she was propositioned by a soldier while out in the woods. But the council have an idea of what to do about the lack of menfolk...

A Blonde in Love, also known as Loves of a Blonde or Lásky jedné plavovlásky originally, was Czech director Milos Forman's second feature, and also the one which instigated his international reputation as perhaps the brightest talent of the Czech New Wave of the mid-sixties. Also working on this was his fellow director Ivan Passer, who would follow him to America once things at home began to get perilous for the artists who emerged in the era they did, but while Passer's films remained largely cult items, Forman went on to be regarded as one of the greats of the seventies and eighties, working with a variety of major talents.

But they all had to start somewhere, and his modest black and white effort here sowed the seeds of this successful career, making plain his interest in the human condition and how from one angle it can be funny, while from another a sadness is there, even tragedy at times. A Blonde in Love never really wandered into the area of tearjerking misery, but you could tell that below the humour there was a definite strain of melancholia, with an ending that suggested a clear eyed but downbeat view of how relationships went in the real world. That being, romance, like time, was fleeting, and that's a lesson Andula has to learn.

The comic centrepiece was a dance where the authorities attempt to manufacture that which stubbornly refuses to arise out of blatant machination: pairing off the young women of the town, who outnumber the men 16 to 1 we are told (!), with some visiting soldiers transported into the snowbound place. To make this as awkward as possible, those troops are each about twice the age of the girls, and although they're willing to dance with them you can't imagine anything lasting will come from this occasion. Andula spends the whole of the evening at a table with her two equally bored and unimpressed friends, until three ugly bugs in uniform pluck up the courage to go over and ask them to dance.

We can tell these three blokes have no chance, not that the girls for the most part are especially glamorous, as Forman seems to have spent most of the casting seeking interesting faces rather than attractive ones, Brejchová apart, as if to heighten the actress's comely features. But for a start, when one of the trio of soldiers slips off his wedding ring (a recurring motif) we can tell the men have one thing on their mind and it's not making a beautiful union for the rest of their lives. This makes the fact that they have no hope even with these girls, starved of the company of the opposite sex as they may be, the source of the humour, but Andula finds that there is someone who intrigues her that evening.

He is Milda (Vladimír Pucholt) and he plays piano with the band, persuading her up to his hotel room with some subterfuge about teaching her to protect herself from predatory chaps like the ones haplessly hanging around downstairs. But he wants his wicked way with her too, and in a surprising move she lets him, enchanted by his smooth talk and the way it mixes with his played for humour clumsiness, so soon they are whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears while lying naked on the bed. However promising this may seem, Forman appears driven by the need to emphasise the fundamental desperation in life, which results in the final act where Andula tracks down Milda to the home he lives in with his parents, expecting to be welcomed (with her suitcase!) with open arms only to discover she was just another notch on his bedpost and she's out of place there. Still there are laughs to be had here from the observations of character, but by this time a bleakness has made itself apparent: at best, bittersweet is the word for it. Music by Evzen Illín.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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