Christoffer and Maja's trip to Prague to bring back Chistoffer's deceased father evolves into the story of a break-up. In the wake of the events that follow, secrets gradually emerge which threaten to destroy their marriage.
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Anders Thomas Jensen
Nikolaj Lie Kaas,
Romantic drama: the story of Christoffer and Maja's trip to the city of Prague - a beautiful, aging city, but also a city choked by a rigid and dated eastern-block mentality. PRAG is the story of a distant, ever-absent father who, even after passing away, traumatizes all who have known him. And PRAG is the story of a marriage on the verge of collapse, in which Christoffer wants one thing and Maja another. A story of an old love, constantly transformed; at once, rooted, fragile, vulnerable, forgotten and rediscovered. A marriage where secrets, one after the other, come bursting out of the closet. Written by
A Danish married couple Christoffer and Maja (Mads Mikkelsen and Stine Stengade) arrives in Prague, Czech Republic to sort out the paperwork regarding the death of Christoffer's estranged father. Assisted by a local lawyer and friend of the late father (Borivoj Navrátil), the couple waits for the bureaucracy to be cleared and runs into problems with their shattering marriage and general alienation in life.
The city of Prague becomes a symbol for the forlorn state of the main characters: they don't speak the language, the Czech customs regarding the handling of the dead seem odd and overly emotional to the reserved Christoffer and the locations and people in general seem closed, stale, rude and introverted. The feelings of alienation, sadness and anger that so perfectly come to life on the serene face of Mads Mikkelsen are only emphasized by the gray weather, architecture and infrastructure that clearly have once been colourful and happy, just like Christoffer and Maja's life. The film is not entirely humourless pondering about the impossibility of happiness though: the bizarre misunderstandings with the locals provide small moments of dark humour, and the character of a beautiful pub singer Alena (Jana Plodková) shows that some human understanding is always possible even over the language barrier.
One thing I didn't care for as much was the prominence of hand-held camera-work and often outright shaky shots during close-ups. In a way the restless movements augment the feel of naturalism of the conversations, but I tend to find them more distracting than fitting. The music often sounds highly emotional, even sentimental, but ultimately works effectively, especially at the end. Despite minor complaints, Prag is over all a satisfactory meditation on the nature of relationships between humans. The key is to gain an understanding of what's important in life, to refind the lost connection to those around you the film is not hopeless, but does not content itself with easy answers either.
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