by Theresa Patterson
I was first introduced to this thirty-minute film whilst a Junior in high school and between then and now, I’ve admittedly watched it less times than I’ve liked to; this, in itself, is a phenomenal feat for someone who rarely considers watching a movie twice. MOST is one of those films that’s best watched alone. It’s not a horror picture where you require the company of your friends to feel safe. Nor is it a feel-good comedy where these same friends – through their exuberant laughter –seem to make every punch-line of Adam Sandler’s punchier. Unless your friends can consistently partake in reverent silence, this film should only be experienced on a rainy day in the privacy of being curled up by the sofa with a hearty plate of your favorite food and a hot cup of tea. This film warrants your undivided attention – more than anything (or anyone) else – for a sincere and fulfilling encounter.
Cliché as it may sound, this Czech movie is a powerfully moving account about love. Unlike contemporary counterparts however, it manages to bridge the gap between fanciful infatuations like Twilight and realistic relationships, creating a love that is at once singular and universal. Moreover several different types of love are observed, including: the time-tested bond between sisters; the heartbreak of a severed romance; the indifference of unrequited love; the fun of less entitling friendships; the sacrifice of a soldier husband; and even the carefree obliviousness of lust. Together, these stories serve as somewhat of a foil to the main narrative, which revolves around a doting single father and his equally-doting son, Lado.
Now, I’ve heard of the stereotypical single mothers who dutifully raise their kids but rarely did I come across a situation where the father was also mother. Directed by Bobby Garabedian, this particular father-and-son chronicle is set in the bleak winter of the Czech Republic. Despite the coldness however, the affection and chemistry between the two is more than enough to inspire the necessary warmth, in both themselves and audience-members alike. Garabedian perfectly captures the essence of their relationship, as well as the many relationships sprawling about them, in concise, sincere moments that don’t include any superfluous dialogue; and even though every encounter is straight to the point, nothing ever feels remotely lacking. The scenes are fleeting – and often interspersed by glimpses of related but distant memories and stories – although they are unrelentingly tear-jerking in their inherent purity and humanity, whether that involves an endearing hug, a generous gift, a deeply-felt goodbye, or a morally-grey decision. To this end, the credit must also go to the actors themselves, especially Lada Ondrej who flawlessly conveys the animated spirit of Lado, and Vladimir Jarvosky who plays Lado’s benevolent father.
Additionally, credit must be given to acclaimed music-composer John Debney, whose scores can be heard in films like The Passion of the Christ (of which he received an Academy Award nomination), Iron Man 2, The Princess Diaries as well as the upcoming remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book, which is set to be released in early October. In MOST, Debney uses his talents to structure accordion crescendos and diminuendos against a backdrop of elegant violin strings and soft piano melodies; what you then have is a peculiar mix of drama and buoyancy. Not to perplex you any further but did I also mention how this film was Christian? One more reason that makes this film palatable and well-worth the watch – even to the dismissive secular – is how successful it’s been in exploring biblical themes of unconditional love, perfect grace and new life; it does so in beautifully poignant details without ever making an explicit reference to religion, or even to God. This story delivers a cosmically significant message through a personal resonating event – that I have painfully tried to avoid disclosing – and it is for this singular reason that I’m going to watch it again.