This Czech comedy written and directed by Jiří Havelka is based on his award winning play, The Society of Owners. Produced in 2019, it is just now making its way to the US. This satirical tale is about a group of people who all live in the same apartment building in Prague who get together for a house meeting where the top agenda item is the need to sell their attic space to save the place from falling into ruin. Of course it is not that simple. Think 12 Angry Men in an HOA meeting.
Mrs. Zahrádková is running the meeting and she’s got a good plan. She has the backing of her husband who is there representing a couple who are away on vacation. There’s a new couple who just moved in who are also with her for a while until some of the others talk them out of it. And there’s a woman who has a unit she’s renting out to a large group of African students, which is not making her neighbors happy. But she’s all about profit and loss. She’s also brought along her assistant who is constantly interrupting by handing out business cards for all his businesses that can solve any problem that comes up.
Also at the table are brothers who just inherited their father’s place and may or may not have ulterior motives in their input on the matter. Then there’s the ever vigilant Mrs. Roubíčková who controls the meeting by pointing out each and every time that someone is breaking the rules. Mr. Nitranský is mostly interested in seeing how he can use the attic for his own purposes. And the oldest person at the meeting Mr. Kubát isn’t interested in any kind of change to the building whatsoever.
The meeting begins with the usual talk of who is paying for what in the building and where their fees are going, but quickly escalates until tempers are flaring and the whole thing could just fall apart. Anyone who has had to sit through these sorts of meeting will recognize the kinds of petty differences that can become exaggerated and the egos at play. The dialogue is funny and the subtext spot on. I suspect that Czech audiences will see more in it as some of it is aimed at the bureaucracy that they live under. (These tenant meeting are more controlled that those in these parts; in fact, they are legally-mandated.) But all in all I recommend this as a smart and funny flick to put on your list when it come to your favorite streaming service, or catch it if you can in NY or LA.
Opens Aug. 18 at Quad Cinema (NYC) & Aug. 25 at Laemmle Royal (LA)