A review of  Dark Blue World” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for nudity and adult content. In Czech, German and English with English subtitles

Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

 

 

Visually sumptuous and hopelessly romantic, Jan Sverak’s big screen follow-up to his award-winning “Kolya” is a lush valentine to the brave and ambitious fighter pilots of WWII Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia under Nazi rule is an unacceptable way of life for a determined group of flyboys who escape to England to train with the British RAF during World War II. Boy meets girl under intense circumstances when naive rookie fighter Karel Vojtisek (Krystof Hadek), is shot down over the English countryside.  Karel dazedly lands into the home, and the arms, of wartime child-minder Susan Whitmore (Tara Fitzgerald) and falls instantly in love.  Theirs is a transitory romance, kindled by a state of war and the fleeting need for warmth and affection. 

Karel’s juvenile puppy love pales in comparison to the heat that is generated when Susan encounters Karel’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Franta Slama (Ondrej Vetchy).  For Karel’s sake the pair try to control their physical fireworks, to no avail. Franta and Susan become lovers, and  Karel and his mentor must face the unpleasant reality of loving the same woman.

The fact that this is a true story of heroism and Communist oppression lends an uncompromising edge to the battlefront  love story. Supporting the trio of passionate lovers is the danger inherent in countries at war and the knowledge that each survivor’s day may be his last. 

Gorgeous expanses of pastoral English countryside contrast sharply with visceral air battles shot in a dizzying, dangerous kaleidoscope of color and machine gun fire. Sentiment tentatively bogs down the script, but this stirring portrait of bravery under trying circumstances is bolstered by the fact that Vetchy is a hubba-hubba Czech whose masculine sexuality lends heroism a voluptuous heat. For true romantics and war fiends alike.