Opening 17 Nov 2005
German director Dagmar Knöpfel’s film concerns the last few days in the life of a famous Czech author and poet, Bozena Nemocová, whose works include a novel called The Grandmother which has been translated in 30 languages and, according to the movie, is in its 400th printing.
The film opens with Nemocová’s funeral and the author’s voice describing the grief-stricken mourners with considerable irony. Most of the film takes place in a room where Nemcová (admirably portrayed by Corinna Harfouch), suffering from severe bleeding and in great pain, is desperately penning a few pages of a letter to a close friend and former lover. The letter was discovered years later and is the basis for the script. From the text of the letter and flashbacks, we learn of the writer’s harrowing life with an alcoholic husband who terrorized his family and tried to harness his bohemian wife. Nemocová, however, was determined to live her life as she saw fit, including having lovers and putting her writing before her wifely responsibilities.
The film is interminably slow. And not knowing Nemocová’s work limits one’s appreciation even more. I’d give it a miss despite the lyrical title (which roughly translates to Throughout the Night, Not a Single Star in English). (Adele Riepe)