Newest Reviews
You've Been Trumped Too
Woman in Black, The
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Kat and the Band
Perfect 10
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Traitor, The
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
  Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Tanks For The Memory
Year: 1988
Director: Philip Kaufman
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Derek de Lint, Erland Josephson, Stellan Skarsgård, Donald Moffat
Genre: Drama, Sex, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: It's 1968 in the city of Prague, and revolution is in the air. Young doctor Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an enthusiastic womaniser, and when he visits a spa to perform an operation, he becomes romantically involved with Tereza (Juliette Binoche), a woman who works there. But events are catching up with them, and the as Soviets invade the lovers are forced to flee...

Philip Kaufman and Jean-Claude Carriere adapted Milan Kundera's supposedly unfilmable novel into a handsome, despondent tale of love, sex and oppression (both political and personal). If you haven't read the book, you may feel at something of a disadvantage, because you get the sense of something missing from this version: an emotional connection, perhaps. And as it draws on, you realise it's one of those films where, whenever people are shown having a good time, things will soon go horribly wrong for them.

Binoche impresses as Tereza, starting out sensitive and naive, then ending up heading for a breakdown as she can't cope with either her husband's infidelity or the depressing situation she finds herself in. The most interesting character is Sabina, an earthy, wise and playful artist who is Tomas' long term lover (attractively portrayed by Lena Olin, even if that bowler hat doesn't really suit her). On the other hand, Day-Lewis is presumably supposed to come across as a smouldering, charming rogue - instead he is more like a smug git, totally undeserving of the attentions of all those women, which is a problem the film never resolves.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as the name suggests, is more at home with the miserable aspects of its story. There is the question of sex without love being a less satisfying experience than sex with love, and that's certainly true for Tereza, if Tomas is not entirely convinced. Despite the setting of the late sixties, the self-expression of sexual freedom is born less from any spirit of the times, and more from the personalities of the main characters - their sexual adventures are supposed to set them free from the, er, "heavier" concerns of life.

Hanging over those characters like a shadow is always the iron fist of the Soviet authorities. Although photgrapher Tereza wants to be politically aware, Tomas and Sabina are happy not to bother with such things until they can't ignore them anymore. The sequence where the Russian tanks rumble menacingly into Prague is a highlight, with use of black and white and faded colour to recreate a newsreel look.

Unfortunately for him, Tomas has previously written an anti-Communist article, which only appears to be a plot device to get the secret police after him when he follows Tereza back home (she can't cope with the freedom of living in Geneva or being married to Tomas). And after the couple attain some measure of contentment, the out-of-nowhere "shock" ending feels like a cheat, only added to sustain the depressing atmosphere once the film is over. Three hours is a long time to stay with all this for an ending like that.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 6632 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Philip Kaufman  (1936 - )

Level-headed American writer and director who doesn't shy away from challenging material; after award-winning debut Goldstein, he offered superhero spoof Fearless Frank, but it was five years until his movie career really got off the ground. The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid was followed by The White Dawn and the script for The Outlaw Josey Wales, and a remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers was his first big hit. Then came The Wanderers, The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the controversial Henry & June, Rising Sun, Marquis de Sade drama Quills and thriller Twisted. He also contributed to the story of Raiders of the Lost Ark; considering his talent, it's surprising how few films he has directed.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: