Tainted Horseplay

For Vera Chytilova, a charter member of the Czech New Wave in the 1960s, frantic visuals and antiestablishment humor take precedence over coherent storytelling, and a hallucinatory haze hangs over this 1988 feature in which three womanizing friends—a writer, a veterinarian, and a health inspector—get a wake-up call when one of them tests positive for HIV. Chytilova's rather tame depiction of decadence recalls La dolce vita, though the hysterical juxtaposition of reality and fantasy is totally her own. Unfortunately her horrific view of AIDS is as retrograde as her helter-skelter mise-en-scene, which might have looked inventive in the late 60s but now seems like just another psychedelic flashback. In Czech and German with subtitles. 133 min.

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