SIFF 2012: Four Suns ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 26, 2012)

Four Suns is a film that Mike Leigh might make, if he was Czech. I don’t have any other reference point because I’m relatively unacquainted with contemporary Czech cinema. Of course, that’s why we attend film festivals…to learn about people from other lands (as our Geography teacher used to tell us). And you know, they really aren’t different from us, as director Bohdan Slama reveals in his mix of kitchen-sink drama and wry social commentary.

A working class ne’er-do-well named Jara (Jaroslav Piesi) gets himself fired for smoking weed on the job. This is straining his credibility, both as a dad (he’s been admonishing his 16 year-old son about getting high with his friends instead of learning a trade) and as a husband (his wife has been giving him the cold shoulder). His only solace is hanging out with his best bud/fellow man child, the Zen-like Karel (Karel Roden), who has a more tolerant spouse (she doesn’t seem to mind that Karel eschews job-hunting for walkabouts to communicate with rocks and shrubs). At some point however, even a 37 year-old has to grow up, and that’s never a pretty thing to watch…with or without subtitles. Leisurely paced, but worthwhile.

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