Not Unbearable, But . . .: The Film, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”

Contrary to the thought of author Milan Kundera, there is no lightness of being, unbearable or otherwise, owing to our being allowed to live only one life (with death as the final end).  Not that such lightness is effectively captured anyway by filmmaker Philip Kaufman in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), based on Kundera’s novel.

I have read the novel once, but do not know how genuinely good it is.  Philosophical small potatoes as it is, and lamentably long, the film strikes me as not good.  Unlike the book, it is thematically wispy.  Miscast as a sensualist, Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t have that much to do but is solid enough.  He plays Tomas, who loves the woman he marries, Tereza, but philanders a lot.  There is, I think, too much nudity in the film, although the oft-naked Lena Olin (Sabina) is a gorgeous and disarming curiosity.  Just as successful is Juliette Binoche (Tereza).  Admirable images crop up in the flick, but it is sometimes tedious.  And the Janacek music on the soundtrack is often inappropriate.  In truth, the cinematic Unbearable Lightness has no raison d’etre.  This one by Kaufman doesn’t.

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