EUFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Home Care’

Posted in EUFF 2016, Festival Coverage, Movies by - November 11, 2016
EUFF 2016: Our Review of ‘Home Care’

Slavek Horak’s semi-autobiographical debut Home Care is a Czech and Slovak co-production. It has a middle-aged lady named Vlasta (Alena Mihulová) as a lead. She’s a traveling nurse based in Moravia, Czech Republic. Vlasta hitches rides to get from one patient from another. She could ask her lazy husband Lada (Boleslav Polívka) to drive her around but chooses not to. She feels as if he’ll only say yes to her half the time. Her altruism is more heartbreaking because of her newly engaged daughter Marcela (Horak also plays the fiance). She sees her mother as overbearing and treats her with contempt. Her patients also treat her terribly. But she might have to take her family’s advice once a doctor diagnoses her with pancreatic cancer. It’s a disease that has a survival rate of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Horak’s film is a tightrope walk of portraying how Vlasta and the people around her behave before and after the big news. Vlasta copes by trying new things like dance lessons. Lada dissociates and retreats to his man cave-y basement, working on a new bed for his wife. And of course, there are the new people one meets when their life is at a crossroads, who listens and reaches out. There’s a few dry gags releasing itself in every encounter. She even gets tough love from new friends. The actors complement this approach, expressing the film’s humour like a swift yet loving hit in the head. But in all of that the audience is still with her.

One thing that happens when a character’s life is at stake and when she meets people she otherwise wouldn’t is that she’s also more receptive to their ideas. Horak’s film plants these seeds early on before her diagnosis, introducing us to one of Vlasta’s patient’s new age-y daughter. That daughter, Ms. Hanacek, introduces Vlasta to ‘energies’ that might ease the latter’s pain if not cure the cancer causing it. She even starts attending churches where faith healing sessions happen, hoping she gets better there. This is when some people in the audience or some people I know might tune out, preferring more ‘logical’ timelines. I was almost one of these people. But without giving too much away, Horak smartly knows that a movie that touches on faith can’t depict a straight trajectory.

Screens at The Royal on Tues Nov 22nd at 6PM

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.