The Lamorinda Film & Entertainment Foundation Presents
An Exclusive East Bay Premier Film Screening
On the surface, the storyline of Autumn Spring seems simple enoughâtwo older men, having some fun, being a bit naughty. A couple of pranksters with no intent to malign, theyâre not quite careful enough as their high jinks sometime backfire, creating problems they hadnât planned on. I couldnât help but thinking this would turn out to be a toned-down, lighthearted, European-flavored mix of âDirty Rotten Scoundrelsâ and the âBucket List,â but this movie impressed me far more than either oneâand I liked both of those movies.
The film opens with Fanda (Vlastimil Brodsky) and his close friend Eda (Stanislav Zindulka), touring a palatial estate with a realtor. On this day, Fanda is a wealthy âMaestro,â the retired conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. With a dismissive air he notes a few âshabbyâ characteristics of the mansion, informing the realtor that he might purchase the propertyâif the owner considers lowering its multi-million dollar price.
As we discover, itâs all an act of course. These guys are having just some funâharmless fun, but expensive funâas in; the realtor has shelled out money for a limo, lunch, wine and a suite at the Hilton for this esteemed, potential buyer.
Fanda trips up, accidentally revealing his true identity as nothing more than a retired pensioner. The realtor is not amused and demands repayment for his expenses. It is a considerable amount of money, so Fanda and Eda begin anew their shenanigans in an attempt to raise the cash. Of course, they are unsuccessful.
Enter Fandaâs wife of 44 years, Emilie (Stella Zazvorkova). Disciplined, pragmatic and realistic to a fault, Emilie is Fandaâs antithesis. They are well along in years after all, so Emilie is taking great pains to plan for the coupleâs eventual and certainly approaching demise. You could say she is obsessed with death, as she daily counts and divides their pennies, the major portion going into their âfuneral account jar.â
You can see where this is going, as Fanda âborrowsâ some of the funeral money to pay his debt. Ultimately however, Fanda is just too kind hearted to carry his deceptions to complete success and his âinnocentâ lies eventually catch up to him. The breaking point is reached and hell hath no fury like a âby the bookâ wife of 44 years. Emilieâs had enough of Fandaâs irresponsible ways and with the blessing of their conniving son, Jara (Ondrej Vetchy) who would like to send papa to the old folks home so that he can have their apartment, Emilie files for divorce. Fanda vows to change his ways, is forgiven, and this time keeps his word. Finally satisfied, Emilieâs life is in order, just as she wanted it. She is happy, as they can now look forward to death together.
The story turns gently and subtly, eventually blossoming into a rich and poignant look at what it means to live and to love. Was Fandaâs behavior due to an immature, irresponsible attitude, or perhaps merely a case of longing for some long-lost, youthful exuberance? We learn the truth as Emilieâs eyes eventually open to see the man she has loved for so many years, as she understands that Fanda has had it right it right all along. Heâs been on a missionâto live life in the moment, quietly enjoying the experience, all the time wearing an âinner smile.â
Autumn Springâs screenplay, by Jiri Hubac, is clever and engaging and the acting is superb throughout. This is a touching and meaningful film, well worth seeing.
Autumn Spring plays in an exclusive East Bay premier engagement at the Orinda Theatre, for one week only, beginning September 16th. The film was selected for this screening by the Lamorinda Film and Entertainment Foundation, whose mission, in part, is to bring âdynamic programming of popular and diverse filmsâ to our region. For tickets, go to www.lfef.org, or www.orindatheatre.com. You can view a trailer of Autumn Spring on our website at www.aliveeastbay.com.