The Snake Brothers

***1/2

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Snake Brothers
"It is Kryštof Hadek who steals the show."

Here is a slice of Czech life that has authenticity and realism stamped all over it through the complicated machinations of two dysfunctional brothers and their families and assorted girlfriends.

Matej and Kryštof Hádek bring their real-life fraternal relationship in to play as Viper and Cobra. The latter is first glimpsed breaking into an empty house to steal a television and assorted small electrical goods for resale - in full view of the elderly neighbour who dare not do anything to stop him. Armed with wire-cutters, Cobra is clearly a liability as a small town thief, usually coked up to the eyeballs as he strolls down the village street with his loot in broad daylight.

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His brother, meanwhile, has little in common with him, and receives from old school mate Ládík (David Máj) the chance to partner him in a fashion franchise. With the help of his grandmother he manages to get enough cash to set up the business. Soon the shop is a going concern and he is able to buy his grandmother a large screen television - which Cobra promptly decides to steal in the dead of night.

Whenever Cobra gets in bother with the police - for petty thieving, threatening to jump from a roof and assaulting a girl in a night club, among other misdemeanours - Viper turns up to help extricate him, out of fraternal duty rather than any real affection.

Prušinovský, who previously made hugely successful soccer-based TV series Okresní Prebor, (which was turned in to an equally successful film), demonstrates that he is adept at rough-cast humour with a distinctly sardonic Czech tone as well as a a touch of the Shane Meadows.

Although Mat?j Hádek as Viper has most of the screen time, it is Kryštof Hadek who steals the show whenever he appears as the ultimate loser whose grandmother, despite everything, tries stoically to defend. She is spiritedly played by the 90-year-old V?ra Kubánková.

The plot thickens when Cobra becomes involved with Viper’s friend Tomáš’s wife Z?za (Lucie Žá?ková), and the pair are discovered in flagrante, leading to a sickeningly violent denouement.

The film is not without its faults, notably a lack of focus when the narrative spins away from the two leads as well as an inability to provide a satisfactory conclusion.

Certainly it gives testimony to a vitality in Czech cinema that has not been seen for some time.

Reviewed on: 07 Jul 2015
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Two brothers feel unable to build a life they are happy with.


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