I Served The King Of England (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/05/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Enjoyable, superbly directed and frequently funny wartime adventure with a superb central performance from Ivan Barney.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jiri Menzel and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Bohumil Hrabal, I Served The King of England stars Oldrich Kaiser as Jan Dite, who gets out of jail after serving 14 years and 9 months of his 15 year sentence and reflects on the events that led to his imprisonment. We then see flashbacks with Dite (now played by Ivan Barnev) working as a waiter in various hotels as he works towards his dream of becoming a millionaire.

However, Jan's life takes an unexpected turn when he falls in love with a Nazi (Julia Jentsch), causing him to turn a blind eye to the fate of his fellow Czechs.

The Good
There are echoes here of films such as Life is Beautiful (clownish physical comedy, the Holocaust, the Nazi occupation) and Black Book (picaresque wartime adventures, frequent nudity, more Nazis) but the film has a certain Czech charm all its own. The segments with Dite as an older man are less successful, but the flashback scenes are wonderful and Barnev is a delightful physical comedian (there's a hint of Chaplin in the restaurant scenes).

It's also very funny and surprisingly erotic in places (in a tasteful way, not a Paul Verhoeven-type way), thanks to Dite's frequently indulged habit of adorning beautiful naked ladies with whatever comes to hand (flowers, fruit, money, etc.).

The Great
I Served The King of England is the fourth of acclaimed Czech director Jiri Menzel's films to be drawn from the works of Bohumil Hrabal (the most famous of which is the Oscar-winning Closely Observed Trains) and his direction is assured throughout, orchestrating some terrifically memorable sequences and drawing superb performances from his cast.

Worth seeing?
In short, I Served The King Of England is an impressively directed, brilliantly written and superbly acted wartime romp that is both emotionally engaging and laugh-out-loud funny. Recommended.

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I Served The King Of England (15)
I Served The King Of England has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 01:30

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