I believe that the current crop of young director's in Hollywood should be sat down and forced to enjoy this film, for it is a perfect example of exactly how a simple movie can be elevated to a piece of art work. Of course it cannot hurt if your base is a novel worthy in its own right, but the transfer to the screen does not always go this well.
First and foremost there is a little of everything here. Daniel Day-Lewis is possibly the finest method actor of his generation and the subtlety of the Czech accent, the easy passion of the love scenes and the frankly mouth-watering on-screen tension with Lena Olin is a joy to behold. As for Olin herself, i may be alone, but i think she oozes sexuality and temptation here in a way that a Sharon Stone never could in Basic Instinct. Juliette Binoche is also one of the finest actresses of a generation (Alice et Martin, Three Colurs Blue and an Oscar for the terrible English Patient where she was the only thing worth watching) and she portrays the innocence and vulnerability of Theresa with an effortlessness that she deploys in all of her film roles. As for her display of under-arm hair, i have nothing to add!
Take three fine lead performances, add the perfect, haunting, musical score and the tense backdrop of the Prague Spring of 1968 and we almost have a perfect film. At times the story meanders and at 2h 46mins, does lose the attention into the third hour. I wondered at times why more was not made of the on-screen dynamic between the two female leads and also why the camera dwelt for such long periods on Day-Lewis driving his East-European motor vehicle, but it all adds to the period feel of the piece.
If you do not feel sad come the end, i should be extremely surprised, this is an excellent and engaging piece of film-making.