For years, Jan has lived pressed under the thumb of his domineering, decision-making wife Olga, so he decides to fake an illness in order to attain a taste of freedom. Humor and serious life questions follow in Czech director/screenwriter Radek Bajgar’s feature film debut.
Was making your first feature film difficult?
Of course, it was a challenge to make a feature film, but in the end, I found it less complicated than I expected. I had a script I believed in, I knew the feelings of my characters, so my only task was to tell the story and be as accurate as possible. I am not an artist, for me film is a way of communication. I knew what I was communicating and I wanted it to be very simple.
Are these actors famous in the Czech Republic?
Yes, all of them are Class A actors. They probably liked the script and felt that it was a story that we’re actually living. It’s neither art, nor pure entertainment — it’s a discussion of a topic that troubles a large part of population, maybe including some of the actors.
The film is funny but deals with serious themes of death, divorce, and the meaning of a good life. Was it hard to strike that balance?
Yes, the film is funny only because most of us are ridiculous, men especially. But the essence is serious. It’s a story about the importance of freedom in marriage, although words marriage and freedom seem to stand in contradiction. I’ve been married for 25 years and I find that marriage is fine, but very, very long.
Back in the days when marriage was invented, people’s lives were much shorter and so was marriage: people lived as couples for 20 years maximum, with very clear purpose: to survive and feed children.
But nowadays marriage can last for 50, 60 years. Are we prepared for that? Furthermore, we started expecting to be happy at the same time. A difficult matter.
Do you get along with your wife?!?
Yes, surprisingly. My advice: if you want to tell your wife something complicated, make a movie about it. That just makes it harder for her to ignore.
What is your next project?
After the screenings, everybody’s question was: do you write a movie about tigress? Yes, I do. Because the problem is gender neutral. Also women are tired of men who are too close, too dependent. We are trying to tell that passion and love need some space and distance.