Fair Play


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Fair Play
"The atmosphere of the drab Czechoslovakia at the time has been captured with uncompromising realism."

Andrea Sedlácková delivers a powerful account of the way the old Communist regime sought to control people’s lives through the story of an 18-year-old sprinter who is short-listed to compete in the forthcoming Olympics in Los Angeles in 1983.

Encouraged by her mother to compete she embarks on a grueling training regime and is also given “vitamins” to enhance her performance. She begins to notice changes in her physique, until she comes to realise she is in fact being given anabolic steroids.

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She decides to stop taking them but her mother who views the opportunity as a chance for her daughter to find a better life elsewhere, joins up with her coach to ensure she receives them unwittingly in another form.

The film is as much a political parable as a sporting tale, looking at the way state-sponsored cheating was rife in the Easter bloc. The moral dilemmas of parents who must decide whether to live on the edge or to conform to the will of the regime is pointedly evoked.

The atmosphere of the drab Czechoslovakia at the time has been captured with uncompromising realism while a pre-dawn raid on the family by the police seeking out subversive material comes across as particularly potent.

The director has said that the subject matter has allowed her “to delve into issues that are close to my own heart – freedom of choice, honour and self-respect.”

She does so with a well-paced narrative and sense of visual style as well as extracting fine performances from her principal actors - Eva Josefíková as the daughter and Judit Bárdos as her mother.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2014
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Teenage Anna’s background may be altogether unsuitable for the communist regime, but her talent as a sprinter will help her into the state-run doping program regardless.

Director: Andrea Sedláčková

Starring: Judit Bárdos, Anna Geislerová, Eva Josefíková, Roman Luknár, Roman Zach

Year: 2014

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Germany

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