The film takes place in the present-day in a village in the Jeseník Mountains – the area known as the “Sudetenland”.
The main character is Maruna (35-45), who never completed her education to be a German teacher and lives on an old farm together with her younger sister Jaruna (30-35) and their ill and domineering Mother (60-70). Instead of teaching German, Maruna runs the local pub, the villagers’ meeting place, and also looks after her mother and runs the farmstead. She tries to find herself through hopeless relationships with the village’s milquetoast mayor Jura (35-50), the shallow skirt-chaser Kódl (35-40), and platonically with the village outsider Olin (30-50). Her relationship with her mother is complicated. Her mother denigrates her and criticizes her way of life, but Maruna is incapable of breaking free from her mother’s influence, and Maruna cares for her after she takes ill.
The mayor, Jura, is a weak and unremarkable middle-aged man who is trying in vain to finish construction on his home. His only passion is hunting and waiting for “his stag” – which he never gets. Young Kódl is a roofer who works the trade with his father, from whom he inherited not only his trade but also his weakness for women – a pastime that being married does prevent him from pursuing. Olin is considered an outsider in the village. He is nice, but otherwise not really good for anything. Most of the villagers consider him something like the “village idiot”. Maruna teaches him German words; he loves her in his own naïve way. She has a weakness for his earnest nature, but he is not a prospective partner.
A separate storyline follows three local forestry workers who live together in a dilapidated old hut: Laďa (35-45), his wife “Laďa’s Old Woman” (35-45), plus Laďa’s friend and co-worker Balin (35-45). In their living arrangement, “Laďa’s Old Woman” is both men’s sexual partner. Everybody in the village knows about it and they all tolerate the situation in their own way. But a problem arises when Laďa’s Old Woman “goes astray”. Laďa and Balin go after her, and accidentally kill her during an argument. This event churns up life in the village, but essentially serves to confirm its unchanging nature and inertia.
Despite their mother’s illness and with Maruna’s blessing, Jaruna decides to be with Hans – a former German native of the village and a well-off businessman in his autumn years – and leaves with him for Munich. The village is becoming depopulated, and Maruna now has to look after her sick mother on her own. What is more, Maruna learns that she is pregnant. This pregnancy pushes all other relationship issues into the background and gives Maruna the strength to take control of her own fate. We don’t know who the father is, and Maruna herself doesn’t know or won’t say. The potential fathers avoid Maruna. Only Olin stays with Maruna, and takes on the role of her protector and helper, and maybe a kind of partner.
Festivals & Awards
AFI European Film Showcase 2014
Haifa International Film Festival (Israel) 2014
Karlovy Vary 2014
Korona Film festival (Ukraine) 2014
MUCES Muestra de Cine Europeo de Segovia (Spain) 2014