Shot in moody monochrome, I, Olga is a languorously paced biopic following a figure that went down in the annals of history as a murderer who killed for “future tolerance”: the last woman to be executed in Czechoslovakia.
Set in the early 1970s, the first half of the film follows 22-year-old Olga (Michalina Olszanska) drifting despondently from job to job and steadily puffing her way through the country’s tobacco reserves. She feels persecuted by the world and attempts to form emotional connections by exploring her sexuality. It’s only at the halfway mark with Olga’s ‘J’Accuse’ letter that the mood piece gains some momentum, as filmmakers Tomáš Weinreb and Petra Kazda inject some substance to the stylish form by introducing the theme of martyrdom and exploring the struggle between being active and remaining passive. Sadly, these meditations arrive too late in the running time to fully satisfy, and the aesthetic ultimately ends up eclipsing the content.
Já, Olga Hepnarová (I, Olga) | Directed by Tomáš Weinreb, Petra Kazda (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, 2016), with Michalina Olszanska, Martin Pechlát, Klára Melisková. Starts October 25.
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