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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbearably long yes but it proves to be a bittersweet romance
One of the most haunting aspects of this movie is that my video store today has it under the "Adult entertainment" section which I thought was a joke. I first saw this on its release in 1988 at the age when I shouldn't have seen it. I'd forgotten so many details of it, and I was newly impressed at the film for the second time.

That aside, I must say that...
Published on June 30 2007 by Jenny J.J.I.

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice historical fiction movie
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This movie is set against the backround of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the 1960's It is about a doctor who has physical relationships with many different women. He then meets a woman whom he wants to pursue a romantic and emotional with. She wants him to be monogamous. The ensuing...
Published on May 3 2004 by Ted


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbearably long yes but it proves to be a bittersweet romance, June 30 2007
By 
Jenny J.J.I. "A New Yorker" (That Lives in Carolinas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
One of the most haunting aspects of this movie is that my video store today has it under the "Adult entertainment" section which I thought was a joke. I first saw this on its release in 1988 at the age when I shouldn't have seen it. I'd forgotten so many details of it, and I was newly impressed at the film for the second time.

That aside, I must say that despite the length (and a tendency for some parts to be longer than they should have been), this is a very good film. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Tomas so brilliantly, it's hard to think of him in his other familiar roles (Last of the Mohicans, for instance). Juliette Binoche is also great as Tereza Tomas wife. Supporting characters come and go, and the tone frequently changes with little warning. But those two things work perfectly within the context of the movie. Lena Olin, as Sabrina, does well on her role as a sculptor who also can find no place for love without freedom in her life. Her relationship with Tomas is based upon friendship and convenience. Their lovemaking is passionate but not empty or cold. If there is love, it is left unspoken.

You can see how Teresa, Tomas and Sabina's actions flow from what they are on the *inside*: This film shows how Tomas is driven to his womanizing by his need to be 'light', and how Teresa finds this 'lightness' unbearable by her need for intimacy.

Add on the absolutely mesmerizing cinematography (it acts as naturally as Teresa, Tomas, and Sabina do), and music that seems written for the movie yet is over 60 years old. This is truly a beautiful European film. Not in the ersatz 'Chocolat' style, but in the tradition of Krieslowski and Wajda. Within itself, it is a very moral film. It has a simple beauty that does not wear its heart on its sleeve, but within the wonderfully understated performances that also include Derek De Lindt and the great Stefan Skarsgaard.

You can easily enjoy this film on both TV or on DVD/VHS. If you're not able see it on TV then don't hesitate to rent it or buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very bearable, Feb. 25 2004
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Task, but Still a Great Movie, Aug. 30 2007
I've always felt it is a mistake to compare a film adaptation to its literary counterpart. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as a novel, is hugely significant and wonderful. As a film, it is not necessarily true to the book and that is solely because as a film it is not capable of being true to the book. I would compare making a movie out of Milan Kundera's novel to making a video game out of the Godfather or Pulp Fiction. If that was done we run into issues like forgetting to include the priorities of game play, or simply cashing in on the success of the film. With the Unbearable Lightness of Being, there are inevitably going to be lovers of the book waiting to attack the film, and that has happened. Of course it prioritizes itself efficiently as a cinematic experience, while at the same time it makes for about as good an adaptation of the novel as you can possibly get. It wasn't a filmable story to begin with and even Kundera came forward and said that, but he also consulted the writers of the screenplay. So comparisons between the film and novel are in my opinion pointless but also inescapable. I've already made them myself.

I'm not going to summarize the whole film for you as that would probably be too long-winded and could potentially spoil the story. I'll introduce the characters, place them in a setting and then say go...and then you can add this to your shopping cart, proceed to check out, and then a few days later press play. The film takes place in Prague in 1968 just after Alexander Dubcek lead the Prague Spring advancement. Soon after that the characters suffer through further reform following the eventual invasion of the Soviets and the Warsaw Pact. The film opens with two characters who are lighthearted and carefree lovers. Tomas is a surgeon and womanizer who lives life as though sex and love are two very different things. Sabina is an artist who, in the eyes of Tomas, embodies sex. Tomas soon meets the more heavyhearted Thereza, a waitress and aspiring photographer, who embodies innocence. They are opposites but soon Thereza will also embody love in the eyes of Tomas.

The characters in The Unbearable Lightness of Being evolve wonderfully in a significant and chaotic backdrop, but they never steer from their passions. It is layered as not only a romance, but also as a story about rebellion, and as an erotic dance; but ultimately it is an existential story. A few of these points are strengths only realized if the book is read first. Not that I'd definitely recommend doing that if you haven't already, as the book does stand higher in it's own medium than the film does and you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Some of the deeper messages are unquestionably somewhat muted in the film.

Again though, judged solely as a cinematic narrative, Director Phillip Kauffman makes The Unbearable Lightness of Being a beautiful movie and delves deeply enough into these characters and their world that he manages to capture some of Kundera's vision, while adding his own motion picture flare. I'm conflicted as to whether this movie should be celebrated as a triumph in terms of Kundera's novel, but I'm not conflicted in the least as to whether or not this is a great movie all by itself.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A nice historical fiction movie, May 3 2004
By 
Ted "Ted" (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen) (DVD)
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This movie is set against the backround of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the 1960's It is about a doctor who has physical relationships with many different women. He then meets a woman whom he wants to pursue a romantic and emotional with. She wants him to be monogamous. The ensuing results are quite original.
The film is also a good history lesson about the Soviet invasion but is not appropriate for school age children. The film has a well deserved R rating for scenes of nudity and sex which I think were unnecessary and prevent a wider range of audience from seeing the film. I greatly hope that the producers would offer a version of the film witht he nude and sex scenes cut so that it could be shown in history classes in school.
There is also a scene that Beatles fans may like where the song "Hey Jude" is sung in the Czech language. It also has many pieces of music by Czech composer, Leos Janacek.
The DVD also has audio commentary by the director Philip Kauffman, Editor, Walter Murch, Co writer John Carrière, and Actress Lena Olin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kaufman's masterpiece, now sadly out of print, Jan. 30 2004
This review is from: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen) (DVD)
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that an American directed it. The movie feels so European, and it's not faux-European--it needs to be done this way. Or perhaps it's really not so surprising, on second thought. I've long observed how European or Europe-born directors make the best American films (Louis Malle with Atlantic City, Roman Polanski with Chinatown, even Paul Mazursky with Moscow on the Hudson), so why not the reverse?
At any rate, after making a somewhat cynical American movie (The Right Stuff), Kaufman reinvented himself as his exact polar opposite, directing this relatively innocent film about the "Prague Spring" and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. I say "innocent" even though the film is best remembered (in Puritan America at least) for the explicit sex scenes that, to me, are not shocking and are not even the first thing (or second, or third) to come to mind when I think of this marvelous film. Instead I remember Sabina's hat, the quiet moments between her and Tomas, and the feeling pervading the film that life is fleeting, happiness elusive, and life-altering changes lurk around every corner. Instead I marvel at how the film manages to *suggest* the existential novel it came from, even though Kaufman chose not to try to adapt the huge existential portions of Kundera's book.
Both Daniel Day Lewis and Lena Olin are excellent in their roles, but the real standout, one of the greatest performances I've ever seen on a movie screen, belongs to Juliette Binoche. Her Tereza is attractive but gawky, poised by awkward, shy yet take-charge. She is meek around Tomas yet grabs her camera and runs fearlessly into danger when the Russians invade. Binoche's performance is so astonishing we can reconcile these contradictions and in fact don't even question them. That she was never Oscar-nominated is astonishing. (This film received a grand total of two nominations and no awards--proof, if it was needed, that the Academy is retarded, considering such forgettable films as The Accidental Tourist and Rain Man took home trophies.)
Criterion's DVD is excellent, with fascinating commentaries by Kaufman, screenwriter Jean-Claude CarriÃÂre, Lena Olin and others. I would have liked a "Making of" featurette too, but that's because I'm greedy. The picture is crisp and vibrant and the sound very good if not THX-caliber. One strange omission: no trailer. I think this is the only DVD I own without a trailer, except for Disney's shameful release of Never Cry Wolf.
Highly recommended, obviously, but you have to find it used. Criterion these days seems too busy releasing titles like Deep Impact and The Royal Tenenbaums. Maybe their "criterion" is now cashflow, rather than bringing undervalued films to DVD.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A TOUCH TOO LONG BUT THOUGHTFUL., Jan. 14 2004
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen) (DVD)
Do yourself a favor and read Kundera's book to fully appreciate the nuances of this movie, things like what "lightness" stood for (freedom of self and sexual expression). With such liberties staunchly repressed under the dictat of the former Soviet Union, sexual expression becomes a cry for freedom within itself. The movie is erotic, yes, but it carries a whiff of mischief rather than being purposeless, gratuitous "softporn" as some reviewers lament.
Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty decent as Tomas, toggling between a brain surgeon and a Lothario. His performance is disciplined and understated as events overtake Tomas's ability to control his destiny. He has an arrangement with Sabina (Lena Olin), a sculptor who also can find no place for love without freedom in her life. Their relationship is based upon friendship and convenience. Their lovemaking is passionate but not empty or cold. If there is love, it is left unspoken.
Kaufman uses this relationship as the foundation of the movie with most of the dynamic being centered upon the naive country girl (a very fresh and intriguing Juliette Binoche) who rebels against the crushing of the Prague Spring by photographing the brutality.
The trio escape to Switzerland. Geneva then plays a major role in this film as being emblematic of an alternative freedom; a freedom that feels heavy with responsibility. Maybe, within western democracy, when everybody has a voice, then the individual can no longer be heard. Maybe, if there are no small victories, then there is no true lightness. Their freedom can only be felt within context.
Finally, Thomas and Tereza return home to a Soviet Prague. Again, via censure, the communists provide the answer.
Sabina finds a beach side property in California, opting for bland airbrushed seascapes. She lives alone. Her spirit has been quelled by the freedom that surrounds her.
This is truly a beautiful European film, perhaps not too palatable to Hollywood-tainted tastes. Despite its length (which does tend to drag a little) and its erotic texture, I believe it follows its own moral vein.
A thought provoking dash of cinema, highly recommended for any connoisseur's collections!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Wonderful Cinematic Experience, Dec 28 2003
This review refers to the MGM DVD edition of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"......
"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is a cinematic experience that will move you in many ways. The thrill of romance, the heartfelt friendships, the tension of Russian tanks rolling through Prague in 1968 and the passion of a people to take control of their own lives are all a big part of this wonderful film. It is beautifully filmed, with a hypnotizing screenplay, and a tremendous cast that fully capture the essence of each of the wonderful characters they portray.
It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, as Tomas, a renowned brain surgeon in Czechoslovakia(also renowned for his charms that no woman can resist)whose love for two very different women, creates a unique bonding and passionate love triangle between the three.
He can never forget the beautiful and seductive Sabina(Lena Olin), who seems to know him better than any other, and yet he cannot resist the charms of his wide-eyed and childlike but serious bride, Tereza(Juliette Binoche).But when politcal upheaval, interupts his perfect life, they must flee the country, where Tereza finds she cannot continue the lightness of life that Tomas has carved out for them. He must choose now, a decision that may have him sacrificing all in the name of love.
A nearly three hours, there is not a frame in this excellent piece of filmmaking that I would change. With each view I fall more in love with it and always come away completly moved. It is Directed by Philip Kaufman("Quills"/"The Right Stuff") and includes Donald Moffat and Stellan Skarsgard in the wonderful cast.The music adds the perfect feel to the rollar coaster of emotions in the story and the photography is outstanding.
This DVD by MGM is a nice transfer. The picture and colors are very good and it is presented in the theatrical release format of 1.85:1. The sound is superb in DD 5.1. It surrounds the room and every detail is clear and distinguishable.(The Criterion edition is in 2.0) Not much in the way of bonus features though, if that is what you are looking for. There is a theatrical trailer and it may be viewed with subtitles in English, French or Spanish. At this time I notice that Amazon is out of stock, and the merchants have some, but at very high prices. This DVD is not hard to come by. I found it at my neighborhood video store at the sugg. retail price(about half of what the sellers are asking for).
This is a film to be enjoyed many times over by anyone who enjoys, romance, drama, a little comedy, and fine filmmaking. It is however rated R for nudity and explicit love scenes.
Get ready for a moving experience and enjoy.....Laurie
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5.0 out of 5 stars the Prague Spring, Dec 10 2001
By 
Doug Anderson (Miami Beach, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
If you've read the book you won't be disappointed with this film which doesn't try to convey all Kundera's philosophy but it does retain the spirit of the book. Really the book had what some considered to be too much philosophy in it which got in the way of the story which was not Kunderas main concern anyway as his characters were just actors he used to elucidate his ideas. For Kaufman the real heart of the book was not in its ideas but in the way Tomas and Tereza relate and how that relationship evolves within a very specific historical circumstance, the Russian occupation of Prague in 68. That moment in time is really brought to life both in the cafes as we hear a Czech. version of"Hey Jude" being played and in the streets when the actual invasion takes place at which point hand held black and white cameras are used to give an on the spot feel to it.
When we first meet Tomas(Daniel Day Lewis) he is involved with Sabina(Lena Olin)and what they share is an almost religious belief in the erotic and an equalllly strong belief in retaining their individuality and frredom. On a visit to a spa in the country to perform an operation however Tomas comes across the innocent waitress Tereza(Juliette Binoche) and his life after that is never quite the same. Sabina resents the intrusion at first but soon she and Tereza are friends, in fact the moment they become friends on a rainy afternoon taking pictures of each other is one of the best scenes in the movie. A lot is made of the historical happenings and how they affect each characters personal life. I found it a little hard to believe that they would willingly return to Prague under communist rule after they had made their escape to Zurich but you may feel differently. The use of the terms "lightness" and "weight" that so often appeared in the book always seemed to my ears rather vague, the movie gratefully only employs those terms on rare occasion. The last scenes in the countryside are some of the most beautiful cinematography I have seen, quite memorable images evoking the really valuable things in life.
Certainly one of the best adaptations of a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great ones, Sept. 1 2000
By A Customer
To the reviewer that said he'd rather watch an episode of 'Happy Days' to this great film perhaps should do just that, as this film is obviously out of his league. It didn't have the slapstick comedy, grim violence or juvenile one-liners that characterize most of what passes as entertainment.
Having lived many years in Eastern Europe, with it's intellectual standards it's hard to believe that this is an American film. It is a masterpiece. The more subtle is becomes, the more passions are evident. It is a story within a story withing a storym, and maybe too much for many to appreciate for it's deep texture and vibrant characterization.
Well written, excellent acting, superb photography. This one grows on you. I'e watched it three times (not for the sex scenes, which are mature themes, but tasteful). Having had a Soviet rifle pointed into my face, I can understand that courage and patriotism the Czechs expressed in 1968 and their feeing of being alone at that time.
Bravo, this is one of the best films of the last century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, But Incomplete, Feb. 12 2001
By 
R. W. Rasband (Heber City, UT) - See all my reviews
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I didn't get this the first time I saw it, so I turned to Kundera's novel. This led me to the great adventure of all of Kundera's work, and he quickly became one of my favorite writers. I rewatched this again recently and was much more impressed this time around. Day-Lewis is perfect as Tomas, the sardonic Lothario. Olin is blood-boiling as Sabina, the incarnation of freedom. And Binoche is captivating as Terersa, the woman for whom Tomas gives up everything. This a stirring, heartbreaking movie. The only problem is that it lacks Kundera's inimitable *voice*, the witty, erudite mini-essays he uses to iluustrate his philosophical points. Kaufman tries to recapitulate that voice in one or two lines of dialogue, but is doesn't work as well. By all means, see this fine film. But don't miss Kundera's original classic.
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen) by Philip Kaufman (DVD - 1999)
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