It's a dilemma as old as love itself: Choose the stable dullard or the exciting loser? That's what Marcela (Ana Geislerová) is up against in the poignant, funny, not altogether satisfying Czech film Beauty in Trouble. As the film begins, Marcela and her two kids are fleeing Jarda (Roman Luknár), a steely-eyed auto mechanic who runs a chop shop out of the family's crumbling home. It's easy to see why she takes off. The couple fight bitterly. (They also keep the kids awake with their noisy sex.)
Marcela finds a catch in Evzen (Josef Abrhám), a wealthy, older Czech man who has lived in Italy since he was a child. They become lovers and laze about at Evzen's vineyard in Tuscany, where he wears a vacant expression as he samples the wine. But should she go back to Jarda - at least once he's out of prison?
That's the movie, more or less. There are interesting observations about class mobility along the way, though, as when working-class Marcela mistakenly eats a giant chunk of wasabi at her first chichi sushi dinner. And I love the film's secret weapon, Marcela's crass, self-righteous stepfather Risa, played with Don Knotts pallor and Don Knotts bulging eyes by Jirí Schmitzer. Whether he's serenely farting at the breakfast table or emptying garbage cans onto sleeping children, Risa is a unique cinematic creation. He about walks off with the show.