Like Poison

comedy

Typology

feature

Czech title

Jako jed

Runtime

76

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1985

Production year

1985

Premiere

01.07.1986

Language version

Czech

Director

Vít Olmer

Screenplay

Jiří Just, Vít Olmer

Summary

Director Vít Olmer drew on the casual acting charisma of Zdeněk Svěrák twice in the 1980s. In the case of the tragicomedy Co je vám, doktore? (What’s the Matter With You, Doctor?) (1984) the lead contributed to the screenplay, while the bitter comedy Jako jed (Like Poison) was based on a script written by Olmer, Jiří Just and Karel Zídek, the author of the book it was based on. The movie’s protagonist is not the usual likeable, self-mocking hero played by Svěrák from whom audiences will accept anything because in the end he always finds a path to responsibility and morality. Pavel Hynk, the head of the investment department of a construction authority, is finding it hard to come to terms his forthcoming 50th birthday. He compensates for a long, routine marriage with a variety of affairs that his wife Alice does her best to tolerate with silent rationality. Then, however, Pavel gets involved with a new colleague, the married Slovak Julča. She represents everything he associates with the feminine ideal: spontaneity, romance, energy. The passionate affair unsettles the ageing Pavel and has a dramatic impact on his work performance, which barely hovers above zero. He abandons his hitherto comfortable security with self-destructive, intense fervour. This earns Svěrák’s character respect, even though his behaviour in the course of the narrative may lose the sympathy of viewers. Rather than a schematic story of the punishment of an adulterer, Olmer and Just deliver a disturbing study of masculine defeat, in which playful idealistic longing is beaten by harsh reality. Similarly Pavel’s world is presented as a dismal place in which the camera of Olmer’s favourite cinematographer Ota Kopřiva bleakly savours the world of real socialism. Alongside Svěrák’s dazzling character performance the film is particularly noteworthy for Libuše Švormová’s depiction of the hero’s wife. Ivona Krajčovičová, meanwhile, is the prototype of the seductive Slovak who also gets ahead in contemporary Czech films.

Synopsis

Pavel Hnyk, an engineer and head of the investment department of the building authority, is the father of two teenage children, yet beautiful women still excite him. His wife, Alice - a lawyer, knows about this weakness and tolerates his occasional flirtations. Hnyk is an assiduous worker, although he doesn't overexert himself at work. Technicians Rokoš and Pivoda have been reminding him about background papers for a joint innovation suggestion. The company has a cooperation with Slovakian institutions and companies. Therefore, the company director, Zounek, sets up a coordination unit. The head of this unit is a young Slovak woman, Julka Tomčányová. Her appearance makes a dazzling impression on men in the company. Nor is Pavel Hnyk able to resist her youthful charm. Julka likes him too and they soon become lovers, although she is also married and has a small daughter. The entire company soon finds out about their relationship, including Hnyk's wife and his present lover, Vlasta. Pavel is literally absorbed by his love for Julka and his work performance is almost gone. In the end, he fights in the office with Julka's husband and looses his position in the company. Julka leaves for a time to Košice, in Slovakia. Pavel cannot stand the separation and sets off to see her. After coming back home, he tells his wife he wants to divorce from her. Julka is back in Prague, but now she works in another office. When Pavel finds her, she is cold toward him. Pavel returns to his family and, after some time, perhaps even to his previous position and way of life.

Film online

Cast

Zdeněk Svěrák

ing. Pavel Hnyk, vedoucí investičního oddělení

Ivona Krajčovičová

slovenská koordinátorka Julka Tomčányová

Libuše Švormová

právnička Alice, Hnykova manželka

Václav Švorc

ředitel Zounek

Laďka Kozderková

Vlasta, Hnykova milenka

František Řehák

náměstek Jaroslav Hůla

František Husák

Stanislav Gelner

Vladimír Durdík

ing. Karol Tomčány, Julčin manžel

Dana Balounová

úřednice Olšovská

Věra Tichánková

úřednice Božena Volrábová

Gabriela Wilhelmová

úřednice Martička Krásová

Jaromíra Mílová

písařka Vendulka

Anna Ferencová

sekretářka ředitele

Karel Smyczek

technik Rokos

Boris Halmi

technik Pivoda

Jaroslav Someš

ing. Slavíček

Jiří Tomek

Panocha, zástupce Kultstavu

Michal Suchánek

Pavel, syn Hnykových

Alice Chrtková

Dagmar, dcera Hnykových

Bedřich Čapek

archivář ing. Paleček

Gizela Venclová

matka Tomčányová

Marián Gajdoš

praporčík VB

Ján Bzdúch

stařec

Jana Altmannová

kolegyně

Jimmy Bunzl

kolega

Jan Cmíral

kolega

Zdena Lukášová

kolegyně

Iva Petříčková

kolegyně

Zdena Rulcová

kolegyně

Jan Hraběta

předák zednické party

Jiřina Zemanová

sekretářka Tomčányho

Helena Bártlová

úřednice

Natalie Švabíková

úřednice

Erich Fichtner

úředník

Jan Laibl

úředník

Věra Kalendová

vedoucí závodní jídelny

Jiřina Jelenská

učitelka v mateřské škole

Rudolf Polesný

taxikář

Pavel Myslík

řidič nákladního auta

Zbyněk Červenka

hudebník

Jaroslav Klán

hudebník

Karel Kroužil

hudebník

František Pokorný (3)

hudebník

František Šůcha

hudebník

Hana Forejtová

dubl za Krajčovičovou

Jaroslav Tomsa

dubl za Durdíka

Crew and creators

Director

Vít Olmer

Second Unit Director

Jan Křížek

Assistant Director

Ivan Bareš, Jana Goetzová

Based on

Karel Zídek (Jako jed – román)

Shooting Script

Vít Olmer, Ota Kopřiva

Script Editor

Sonja Kroupová

Camera Operator

Tomáš Hampl, Roman Pavlíček

Production Designer

Boris Halmi

Set Designer

Ivan Ernyei, Jiří Libánský, Dana Smržová, Ondřej Trojan

Costume Designer

Ivana Šislerová

Sound Designer

Jiří Moudrý

Production Manager

Jaromír Lukáš

Unit Production Manager

Jana Hauserová, Jiří Synek, Dagmar Pitráková

Music

Music Composed by

Jiří Stivín

Selected Music

Georges Bizet (Carmen /Toreadore smělý/), Ludwig van Beethoven, František Xaver Brixi (Koncert D dur)

Music Performed by

Collegium Quodlibet

Music Conducted by

Jiří Stivín (Collegium Quodlibet)

Songs

Vlak poslední odjíždí, Ve snách ťa vidím

Songwriter

Jiří Stivín (Vlak poslední odjíždí), Jiří Stivín (Ve snách ťa vidím)

Writer of Lyrics

Pavel Kopta (Vlak poslední odjíždí), Jaroslav Kaiser (2) (Ve snách ťa vidím)

Singer

Petr Flyn (Vlak poslední odjíždí), Zdeněk Svěrák (Ve snách ťa vidím), Ivona Krajčovičová (Ve snách ťa vidím)

Production info

Original Title

Jako jed

English Title

Like Poison

Copyright

1985

Production Year

1985

Premiere

01.07.1986

Creative Group

Jiří Blažek

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech