The renowned Czech director Jirí Menzel - now 70 years old - directs a film that, like his Oscar-winning 1967 feature Closely Observed Trains, is based on a novel by Bohumil Hrabal. It is a wartime tale set in the era of Nazi Germany’s prewar annexation of Czechoslovakia; young waiter Jan Díte (Ivan Barnev) has racy adventures in old-world Prague and falls in love with a Hitler-partisan mädchen called Líza (Julia Jentsch).
It is brought off with a certain ingenuous gusto, but the persistent note of soft-porn picaresque is odd, as are Jan’s sexual activities themselves. Fervent romantic that he is, Jan appears to content himself, not with penetrative sex, but merely garlanding his conquests’ naked loveliness with flowers and fruits. This causes much delighted laughing. The pseudo-sensuality is annoying and the supposed absurdism and satire are flimsy.