The Joke

Milan Kundera and director Jaromil Jires adapted Kundera’s novel about an ironic Czech professor and ladies’ man (Josef Somr) who’s sentenced to six years of hard labor for a jokey, irreverent postcard he sends a woman he’s trying to seduce. Later he tries to take revenge on the man who turned him in by seducing the man’s wife. Shot during the 1968 Prague Spring, this sour black-and-white comedy with New Wave cutting comes much closer to the spirit of Kundera than Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being; it registers as both a well-crafted story and an acerbic reflection of life in Czechoslovakia during the Stalinist 50s. (JR)

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