BIFF 2013 - A Night Too Young - Cinema Review

'If the policeman who comes calling had arrived dressed as a plumber, with a gigantic moustache and a huge visible wrench, it would have been little surprise, and operated on the same level.'

Bradford has gone mad for the mid-lengther this year, with several double-bill screenings of hour-long films or, in the case of A Night Too Young (Prílis mladá noc), a sixty-five minute film screened in conjunction with one of the longer shorts on offer. It makes for a welcome change in the pacing of your average festival day, and provides the opportunity for talents such as Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu, here with a Czech-made film, to continue to gain festival exposure.

Unfortunately, all of that matters not a jot if the film in question is as flawed as A Night Too Young. Whilst the idea may be solid - two youngsters find themselves in an apartment on New Year's Day night with three adults; coming-of-age-type situations ensue - the execution feels off. The two less-than-likely lads (Vojtěch Machuta and Jan Vaši) prove to be the start of the problems. Presumably directed to underplay and have as little character as possible, in order for A Night Too Young to prove a metaphor for us all of when we grew up for the first time, neither boy does enough to make you care for them. At certain points Omerzu seems to slightly tease up the tension of what is happening in the flat, but because we're not invested in either character, it comes off flat and vacant.

Meanwhile, A Night Too Young dips further and further towards being a piece of common or garden erotica. The sexual tension between the three adult leads (Natálie Řehořová, Jiří Černý and Martin Pechlát) is potent and well-managed, with bear-like Pechlát effective as the bullying, pimping David. Increasingly though the situation tends towards the outlandish, ignoring the realism it created so believably initially. This comes to a head with the arrival of policeman Milan Mikulčik, who is immediately greeted by the fluttering eyelashes of Řehořová. If Mikulčik had arrived dressed as a plumber, with a gigantic moustache and a huge visible wrench, it would have been little surprise, and operated on the same level.

The confusing back-story (what happened in the cabin the three adults were in?) seems ill-explained and, ultimately, rather pointless, whilst the character motivations also don't hold up to much scrutiny. Quite why the boys are kept at the flat in the first place is a bit of a mystery and David's pimping isn't compatible with his jealously, used to create tension, later on. Řehořová meanwhile feels like she gets the short end of the stick, with little dialogue to explain exactly what her desires are, when in contrast, Černý gets a conversation with Pechlát where his longing and innate nervousness is laid clear for all to see.

On the plus side, all three of the main adult actors are good and Omerzu does show some film-craft skills and a decent level of pace. It falls down at the character and plotting levels though, leaving the director to, like a few others at Bradford, be marked out as 'one to watch', rather than 'one who has already delivered'.

The 19th Bradford International Film Festival runs from 11th to 21st April 2013 at the National Media Museum and other venues near to the city.

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