'Roman pro zeny' rolls into Czech cinemas


'Roman pro zeny' translates as 'A novel for women', but is actually confusingly a film released this Thursday. Its name derives from the best-selling book upon which the film is based. In both - the story of a young journalist Laura, her translator mother Jana and her Julia Roberts look-alike best friend, Ingrid - are told. Radio Prague saw it fit to send along a woman who likes novels to interview the film's director, Filip Renc. Rosie Johnston started by asking him how it was to make the film:

"Making a movie isn't a joke, it isn't funny. In fact it is very hard work; you have to wake up every day at five for two months, it is hard work. And at the same time you are making a romantic comedy. No one, but no one, knows what went on behind the camera. There was war! But this comes off as a light, romantic comedy I hope."

'Roman pro zeny' or 'message from the subway's' release has been much anticipated in the Czech Republic. As you just heard its director - Filip Renc - say, it is being marketed as a romantic comedy made for twenty-somethings the Republic over. Stylish advertisements for the film pervade the metro, the cinema trailers and are all over women's magazines.

For the film's target audience, Filip Renc is very much the director of the day. The child star turned smash-hit musical director tells me how this latest project compares with his previous ventures:

"I wrote the script for 'Rebels', which is a musical set in the sixties. It was a funny movie for teenagers, and quite different to 'Message from the subway' in plot and style. The latter is a romantic comedy, and the first movie which I have directed without having written the script for. I prefer it that way, it's better for me."

...Which leads us on to who did write the screenplay? The film is an adaptation of the book 'Roman pro zeny' by the highly successful contemporary Czech author Michal Viewegh. The title literally translates as 'A novel for women', which was a retort to those who said that only girls could like his writing.

'Roman pro zeny'
Viewegh's books have been turned into films on two other occasions, but this is the first time that the author has been part of the dramatization. It was Viewegh who wrote the screenplay for the film. I asked Filip Renc about his cooperation with Viewegh:

"When the last version of the screenplay was finalized with Michal Viewegh - that was the end of his job and the start of mine. I had to choose the actors and actresses and people to compose the music."

Renc chose a number of French artists to create the film's score, but the soundtrack also includes a couple of very popular songs by the boldly named Czech outfit 'Support Lesbiens'.

With its catchy soundtrack, impeccably dressed and coiffed stars, and location shoots in the trendiest of Prague's bars - the film definitely is stylish; but whether the vast Czech audiences set to see the film will find it substantial viewing is quite another matter.