Garden Store: Family Friend
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, 1939: after the Gestapo arrest three men, a family friend provides for their wives and children, but over the years a forbidden love blossoms. An assured period piece which uses the familiar WWII backdrop as fertile soil, Garden Store: Family Friend takes root as a moving, humane drama unafraid to wrestle with the fraught tensions of love, family and betrayal with a twinkle in its eye.
The latest film from the acclaimed Czech writer-director duo of Petr Jarchovský and Jan Hřebejk, this is a delicate balancing act of melodrama and pathos. The eponymous family friend, Jiří ( Ondřej Sokol ), tries to keep his relationship platonic with his best friend’s wife, Vilma (Aňa Geislerová), but neither of them can deny their burgeoning feelings towards each other. As they grow closer, Jiří eases in as a surrogate husband and father, only for an unexpected appearance to disrupt the life he and Vilma have become accustomed to. Hřebejk’s warm, classical direction showcases sophisticated, comforting craft to match a narrative arc filled with rich characters and a keen eye for detail.
"Family Friend achieves an exquisite balance between comedy and drama."—Prague Reporter