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'Sluzobníci' aka 'Servants' (2020) - Ivan Ostrochovský

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  • 'Sluzobníci' aka 'Servants' (2020) - Ivan Ostrochovský

    Visually gifted film-maker Ivan Ostrochovský's fascinatingly sombre, starkly unsentimental, and extraordinarily potent 'Servants' (2020) is a stark, beautifully performed agitprop drama concerning the increasingly precarious fate of two naive seminarians studying in an austere theological seminary who both fatefully decide take an extraordinarily heroic stand against their irreligious Soviet oppressors, with a greatly unsettling, gravitationally oppressive atmosphere, which all-too effectively evokes the stifling, paranoia-steeped angst of communist-era Czechoslovakia. A darkly-tinted, immaculately photographed, frequently moving, thematically bleak B/W feature that certainly doesn't flinch from exploring the harsher realities borne of courageously resisting a totalitarian government.

    The scenes of morbidly meticulous, dispassionate efficiency of cruel, dough-faced StB stooge Dr. Ivan (Vlad Ivanov), pitilessly rooting out the dissident seminarians from their glum, august place of learning has an especially unpleasant gravitas. Hey! it's not exactly what you might call a soothing viewing experience, monochromatically invoking malevolent horror tones, but it's a hugely rewarding one, due to the unerring solemnity of the grimly unfolding events. 'Servants' is hypnotic, emotionally brutalist cinema, and I have to strongly praise bravura actor Vlad Ivanov who is quietly insidious as malign secret police hatchet man Doctor Ivan! And I was eerily entranced and perturbed in equal measure by the glacially efficient score by composers Cristian Lolea & Miroslav Toth, their blackened, foreboding themes anxiously drawing you uncomfortably deeper into the secret police's sordid, crepuscular world of state sanctioned evil.

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