By Ray Bennett
KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic – Czech filmmaker Michaela Pavlatova’s “Night Owls” (Deti noci) tells of a young woman who works the late shift at her family’s convenience store in Prague but dreams of a better life.
A familiar rite of passage tale told conventionally, the film offers likeable performances by its two young leads, Martha Issová (pictured) and Jiri Madl, but seems more suited to television in its home country. It’s not likely to travel very far.
Issova plays Ofka, a restless young woman who appears content dealing with the assorted and sometimes dangerous customers who come into the store in the middle of the night. She spends her free time partying with likeminded youths rather than pursuing more education as her former fellow students are doing.
Her regular companion, Mira (Madl), is a goofball whose complete devotion she either exploits or ignores according to her mood. The film follows their mundane exploits as they roam about in some of the city’s poorer districts at night.
The episodes are not especially adventurous but when Ofka finally runs into trouble, it’s Mira who’s on hand to help her out. Issova and Madl, who won the best acting prizes at the 2008 festival, are appealing but director Pavlatova doesn’t really give them enough to do.
Venue: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Cast: Martha Issova, Jiri Madl, Lenka Termerova, Jan Dolansky, David Novotny, Kristyna Novakova; Director: Michaela Pavlatova; Screenwriter: Irena Hejdona; Director of photography: Martin Strba; Production designer: Jan Novotny; Music: DelaDap; Editor: Tonicka Jankova; Producers: Katherine Cerna, Petr Oukropec; Production: Negativ; Sales: Bontonfilm; No MPAA rating; running time, 80 mins.
This review appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.