Film Review: Czech Dream (Cesky Sen)

* Contains Spoilers

   Pranks come in two forms. The first is used with noble intent to expose lies and find the true nature of the subjects on the receiving end: Sacha Baron-Cohen, in his most intelligent moments, uses these techniques in a number of character guises to highlight bigger issues such as homophobia and anti-semitism.

   The second form of prank is the equivalent of a joke phone call: there's no greater purpose to their existence other than to amuse the perpetrators (see, for example, Russel Brand and Jonathan Ross's answering machine message to Andrew Sachs). Czech Dream, the documentary by Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda, is a feature which believes itself to exist as a superbly intelligent critique on capitalism; instead the empty conclusion of the film renders it dull and as vacuous as the society it ham-fistedly attempts to lampoon. It is the cinematic equivalent of someone believing that partaking in a "You kicked my dog" joke phone-call makes them one of the greatest thinkers of their age rather than a six-former with a lack of self-awareness. Czech Dream is a perfect example of the second of the two forms of prank listed above, but it has the delusion of grandeur that it is one of the great satires of the twenty first century.

   Klusak and Remunda's feature centres around their creation and launch of a fictitious new hyper-market. An expensive pre-"opening" advertising campaign tells the citizens of Prague about a new store packed to the rafters with low-price products. Between the large-scale publicity campaign and the promise of great value-for-money a huge crowd turns up to "Český sen"'s opening. What they learn, that the whole "opening" was an elaborate hoax, is as deflating as the overall lessons that can be pruned from the film (namely that people like cheap products and dislike being lied to). Like the individuals who made the journey to the fake hypermarket only to be greeted by a canvas facade, those watching Czech Dream will feel their time has been entirely wasted and for no great purpose. Cinema at it's most pointless.

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