This dreamlike fairytale captures the coming-of-age of a young Czechoslovakian girl. After receiving a pair of earrings, strange things begin to happen to Valerie. As her burgeoning sexuality sparks even more haunting escapades, Valerie must contend with an explosively surreal world that challenges and inspires her.
Filmed in and around beautiful South Bohemia, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is mostly set in Prague in what seems to be either medieval or turn of the century time period.
The beginning of the film follows Valerie, played by the enticing Jaroslava Schallerová, as she explores her wonderland and interacts with the characters within it with wide-eyed wonder and curiosity. While a lot of the film is up to the viewer to interpret if they choose to, the crux of the story centers around Valerie and a pair of magic earrings that have been stolen from her by her ‘brother’. These magic earrings protect Valerie and keep her (and others if needed) from dying. Valerie lives with her religious, rosary carrying grandmother (Helena Anýzová) and as the dream starts, has just found out that a troupe of actors will be arriving in town to perform for the wedding of a local girl, as well as a missionary who is returning from abroad.
All Movie Guide, Jason Buchanan
A surreal and, at times, achingly beautiful coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop of menacing pagan mysticism, director Jaromil Jires’ earthy fable offers a unique portrait of a world not too far from our own in terms of collective mentality and skewed politics. Whether viewed as a political allegory or a simple cautionary fable, the film could likely succeed on either level, though Jires’ damning view of organized religion shines through with distinct and unmistakable clarity no matter how the film is interpreted.
From the dank interiors of the vampire-infested village’s secret underground corridors to the bright sunshine that seems to permeate the celluloid in the afternoon light, Jires succeeds in creating an unsettling atmosphere that’s as effective as it is unpredictable. Comfort in family, religion, and law enforcement all fades, as Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová) confronts such menacing corruptors as a creepy, Nosferatu-like priest and the pedophilic constable and throughout everything, Jires offers his young protagonist no safety or sanctuary save for a pair of powerful magical earrings. As the menace closes in from every side (including Valerie’s own household), the bleakness that would traditionally be punctuated by darkness is instead sickeningly highlighted by the soft rays of the afternoon sun — making the threat all the more effective. The choice of Jaroslava Schallerová as the innocent but extremely aware Valerie is indeed a wise choice, as her unusual and hypnotic beauty serves to highlight the film’s otherworldly aesthetic.
SPECIAL FEATURES (No English subtitles!)
• Alternate soundtrack, with no dialogues, (as second audio track) featuring music by The Valerie Project.
• Interview with Jaroslava Schallerová
• Interview with Jan Klusák
• Interview with Pavel Taussig