'Autumn Spring': Keep that twinkle in your eyes

There's a delicate, playful tone to the Czech comedy "Autumn Spring," about an aging prankster and his rather more practical wife, that makes the film irresistible. Fanda (Vlastimil Brodsky) and his pal Eda (Stanislav Zindulka), both septuagenarians and former choristers with the opera, enjoy duping real-estate agents by pretending to be a wealthy home buyer, or stealing kisses from pretty girls at train stations in the guise of a transit inspector.

"Stop playing the fool and start taking life seriously," frets Fanda's wife, Emilie (Stella Zázvorková), who's busy counting coins to pay for their funerals.

Brodsky, a legendary Czech actor making his final film appearance here (he committed suicide last year, after a debilitating stroke), masterfully creates a character from little details; an ever-furrowed brow, a slightly amused twinkle in his dark eyes, an expression both sunny and a bit worried, as if he's making things up as he goes along. Watch him in the background during a scene in a florist's shop; he absently picks up a flower, holds it over his head like a shower, then quizzically to his ear like a phone. This man, we see, makes his own fun.

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer

"Autumn Spring," with Vlastimil Brodsky, Stella Zázvorková and Stanislav Zindulka. Directed by Vladimír Michálek, from a screenplay by Jirí Hubac. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language. In Czech with English subtitles. Varsity, through Thursday.

Director Vladimír Michálek keeps the film moving along neatly, and somewhere along the way pulls off a nifty little prank of his own: He turns "Autumn Spring" into a gentle story of love and kindness. "Good deeds pave the way to heaven," says Fanda, slipping some money (which he can ill afford to lose) under a vase in the home of an ailing friend. And, despite their differences, the bond between Fanda and Emilie is rock-solid; it's clear in the affectionate exasperation in Emilie's gaze, late in the film.

"When I scold him, he says I'm right, and he keeps on doing it," she says, and beneath her nagging tone, you can hear that she likes that just fine.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com