Monday, March 18, 2024


I've argued before that there are a lot of critical types out there who seem to praise arthouse films to high heaven just because the movies aren't your traditional commercial fare. I tend not to care for the arthouse stuff, and I'm sorry to say that this view was confirmed when I recently watched one of the TCM Imports from a few months back, the Czech New Wave film Daisies.

The movie starts off with a sense of the absurd, with the opening credits playing out over intercutting of the sort of industrial wheel Charlie Chaplin got mixed up with in Modern Times, and shots of the destruction wrought by bomber planes. After the credits, we get two women in bikinis, both named Marie. They talk about nihilism, with one of the two suggesting that the world has gone spoiled, so perhaps they should be the ones doing the spoiling! Cut to a shot that could just as well be the Tree of Knowledge from the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

After that, it's off to a restaurant where one of the two young women has gone with an older man on a date. The other Marie then shows up to crash the dinner, claiming to be the sister of the one on the date. After more absurdity involving a series of cuts in which each new scene is tinted a different color, the two women then leave the man alone on the train when he thought he'd be taking one of them home with him. Boy are they rude.

And they're not just nasty to other people. After a scene in which they annoy the hell out of everbody trying to watch the floor show at a night club. One of the Maries decides she's going to commit suicide, and the other Marie returns home to this. The non-suicidal Marie is ticked, less worried that her friend has tried to kill herself, and more about the cost of the gas that was used in trying to committ suicide. Who's going to pay for this? Dead men tell no tales! Obnoxious giggle.

It goes on like this for another hour or so, with more dates, more trying to strand the men on trains, and more intercutting with other absurdities back at their apartment. It doesn't seem to go anywhere, and there's really no plot to resolve.

People who like the absurd may enjoy Daisies, as will people who enjoy stuff that's decidedly not Hollywood. As you can guess, I mostly intensely disliked it. In the movie's defense, however, I will also add that director Věra Chytilová shows a high level of technical proficiency with the cinematography, the editing, and the changing use of color, with some of the effects being well done too. It's a shame that all of this is in the service of a badly plotless movie.

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