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Film Review: Dom (The House)
by Birgit Schrumpf

Director: Zuzana Liova,
Republic of Slovakia/Czech Republic

The grumpy and unsmiling Imrich (Miroslav Krobot) is building a house in the village of his forefathers. He builds it right in his backyard and it’s going to be a gift for his teenage daughter Eva (Judit Bardos). But he also expects her to help with the building the minute she returns from school. He wants to keep her close and means to protect her by keeping a vigilant eye on her movements. His older daughter Jana (Marian Miltas) is banned from his home, along with her three small children, since she married a man he does not approve of. Only the mother (Tatjana Medvecka) tries to keep contact. She does not tire in her efforts of bringing the family together again.

Eva does not want the house. Instead she wants to leave the village as soon as she has graduated. Secretly, she is taking odd jobs to earn money for a trip to London. She sees herself working as an au pair and travelling the world. Her parents have no idea of her dreams. Everyone’s emotions are tightly bottled up. The father makes all the decisions and domineers the household; we watch him stubbornly building, brick-by-brick. It is his anchor in life. He does not understand the changing world around him. He has lived 40 years under communist rule and is locked into his way of thinking and behaving. Eva belongs to the new generation growing up in a changing society after the fall of the regime. She wants to take any opportunity coming her way. Her first outbreak into “freedom” is having an affair with an older man which does not work out well. The hard reality hits her; she could do with some emotional warmth and help from the family.

It is frustrating to watch the helplessness growing within the family resulting from ignorance of each others’ desires and their different expectations. How will they ever be able to repair their relationship? The daughter loves her father, despite his bullying grumpiness. The father is stiff with fear of losing his daughter but is unable to show his deep love for her.

This Slovak-Czech co-production is Zuzana Liova’s feature debut. It is set against the wider context of the atmosphere and changing values of a post-communist society, highlighting the effect it has on ordinary people and their personal relationships. The camera of Jan Baset Stritezsky and Juraj Chlpik seems to be calmly watching the action without much interference. It is an engagingly naturalistic film with some touching emotional moments.