Contemporary World Cinema | 2015 | 92 minutes
Stranger Says: Home Care is more than its trope: the subversion of vulnerability and power when a nurse becomes a patient. You get glimpses of rural Czech culture (drunk driving and a pregnant woman downing shots!) but more centrally, an exploration of the embodied trauma of womanhood; the main character is killing herself with her own kindness. Do keep watching, because the themes of spirituality and alternative medicine are more complex than they initially appear; also, prepare to remember the inevitability of death. The film’s simple ending left me in noisy, embarrassing tears. (JULIA RABAN)
SIFF Says:Wryly humorous and bittersweet, this is an appealing humanist tale that puts a poignant spin on that perennial staple of Czech cinema, the village dramedy. The action centers on a dedicated home-care nurse in South Moravia who puts everyone else’s needs before her own. Vivacious, 50-ish Vlasta travels all over the countryside, visiting a variety of charmingly eccentric patients and dispensing compassion and conventional medicine in equal measure. An unexpected dramatic shift paves the way for director Slávek Horák to explore his underlying theme: an examination of what is important in life. Beautifully written and performed, the action always feels emotionally honest, the comedy never pandering. Horákwhose mother was a district nurse and who was an assistant director on Jan Sverák's Kolya—was lucky to cast three of Czech cinema’s finest actors: Tatiana Vilhelmova, Boleslav Polivka, and the incomparable Alena Mihulova.
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