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Charlatan

Country: Czech Republic, Language: Czech, 118 mins

Original Title

Sarlatán
  • Director: Agnieszka Holland
  • Writer: Marek Epstein
  • Producer: Sarka Cimbalova; Svatka Peschková

CGiii Comment

 

Typical Agnieszka Holland...all style and substance.

Pee, pee and more pee...yes, you read that correctly, pee is what runs through this film's veins. And...pee has never been photographed so gloriously!

Not exactly suitable dinner party conversation, pee is a window into our health! Alternative medicine has always had its fans and detractors...religious and medical institutions have always been the most vocal naysayers...but, when governments and regimes step into the arena...then, it becomes political and criminal! Communism stepped in...faith and homosexuality are two [of the many] things that do not equate with communist ideology.

Jan Mikolásek was a faith healer, declaring his gift came from god...he was also a married man...and, according to this version of events, a homosexual...who lived and loved with his assistant.

Neither the script nor Ivan Trojan's performance portray this man as a saint...he is as malevolent as he his benevolent. Sympathies are sure to switch back and forth...due to his jealous-stained immorality. 

The chemistry between him and his younger lover is inexact...in that their relationship does not sit well. Is it a 'love' out of [economic] necessity? Or, is it the true appreciation of genius? Can a love [like this] be truly reciprocal when one has the upper hand, owns the purse-strings and dictates the terms and conditions?

This complexity does sit well within the contextual time and place...when a man [like this, devoted to his faith] lives through a staggering change of ideologies...he, himself and all those around must change, adapt...to survive. When morality is eschewed in order to see another day!

We all have the potential to be charlatans...communism was, indeed, the biggest charlatan of them all. Their notion of equality had no bearing on what equality actually is! How many lives did communism ruin? This is just one.

An absolutely stunning film.


Trailer...

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The(ir) Blurb...

Jan Mikolášek is the epitome of aplomb and solidarity. He is talented, sensitive, assertive and enigmatic. In his youth and when he is older, regardless of whether he is in private or public, he is a man of action, reason and intuition. A faith healer. Just one glance at the urine bottle is enough for him to know what ails his patient. With fame comes fortune, and this at a time when Czechoslovakia is a pawn in a game being played by the major power blocs. Protected and used by both the National Socialist and Communist regimes, he steps in wherever the system fails. But during the post-Stalinist years, the political climate becomes unpredictable and his special status is endangered. Along with his assistant František, with whom, as the secret police are well aware, he has much more in common than herbal medicine, the charlatan finds his morals being put to the test.

Based on the life of Jan Mikolášek (1889–1973), and with a screenplay by Marek Epstein, Agnieszka Holland once again explores the link between the private and the political, and the relationship between the passage of time and the story of an unconventional individual.

Cast & Characters

Ivan Trojan as Jan Mikolásek
Josef Trojan as Young Jan Mikolásek
Juraj Loj as Frantisek Palko
Jaroslava Pokorná as Mühlbacherová
Jirí Cerný as Zlatohlávek - duty solicitor
Miroslav Hanus as Interrogator
Ladislav Kolár as President Zápotocky
Martin Sitta as General
Jan Vlasák as Mikolásek's janitor
Barbora Milotová as Nurse
Milena Sajdkova as Postwoman
Magdaléna Borová as Young Woman
Otmar Brancuzský as Butcher
Daniela Vorácková as Adult Johana
Adam Hrdy as Little Boy