A Lot Like Life 

A fairy tale ending is proffered in the Czech film Beauty in Trouble, but human nature gets in the way: The film is clear-eyed in its insistence that people are too complex for happily ever after.

Marcela (Anna Geislerová) lives with her family in an apartment attached to the autoshop where her husband Jarda (Roman Luknár) works, supporting Marcela and their two children by dismantling and selling stolen cars. The couple fights and fucks with equal intensity; after a particularly bad argument, Marcela leaves her husband and takes the kids to live with her mother and stepfather. The five live in cramped misery until the arrival of Prince Charming: A wealthy, doting older man swoops in and offers Marcela and her children a place to live, a trip to Italy, and all the comfort and security that her husband failed to provide. The only thing standing between Marcela and a new life is the powerful physical connection she shares with her ex-husband.

Director Jan Hrebejk and writer Petr Jarchovksy here capture life's nuance and complexity so perfectly it's almost oppressive: people are both kind and cruel; sex is transcendent or petty; death and decay are inevitable. There's no moral, there are no "good guys" and "bad guys"—life is, ultimately, what it is.

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