I Served The King Of England review

Jirí Menzel’s Oscar-winning Closely Observed Trains (1966), adapted from a novel by Bohumil Hrabal, was one of the best-loved films of the short-lived Prague Spring. Now Menzel has returned to Hrabal for his first feature since 1994 – and if it’s not quite on a par with Trains, it shares the same bittersweet humour and teasing political irony. Our hero is Jan (Ivan Barnev), a pint-sized young go-getter with a taste for money, pretty girls and the good life who rises rapidly through the posh hotels of pre-war Prague. But his naive ambition blinds him to the political storm-clouds massing over his country. Menzel is faithful to the novel and makes good use of his stunning Prague locations. A sweet, melancholic film, very Czech in its love of life and gentle sense of loss.

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