Slovakia/Poland, 2009, 146 min
Against the backdrop of a Cold War Czechoslovakia where the Velvet Revolution is still unimaginable, this taut political thriller traces the psychological unraveling of a secret agent, torn apart by the monotony and corruption of the sinister bureaucracy that employs him. Antonin, nicknamed Tonga, becomes obsessed with the girlfriend of a writer he is tracking as a suspected subversive, using the considerable means at his disposal to break them apart and win the woman for himself, never mind the implausibility of his plan. Afflicted by panic attacks and visions of himself teetering above a gaping chasm, he sees that his prey, Tomas, has exactly the life—and the woman, Klara—he desires, despite the constant pressures of the police state. Tomas refuses to accept Tonga’s offer of exile, even amid the incessant sabotaging of his private life. But the pressure is unrelenting, and he eventually must choose between his love for Klara and everything else he holds dear. Bringing to mind The Lives of Others in its story of love under a totalitarian regime, Walking Too Fast similarly features a brilliant central performance by Ondrej Maly, who plays Tonga with a chilling ruthlessness. Maly’s steeliness is echoed by Jaromir Kacer’s surveillance-like photography, full of stark shadows and a tenebrous ochre and gray palette. Collecting an unprecedented 13 Czech Golden Lion nominations, Walking Too Fast is a bleak and potent rendering of the emotional destruction wreaked by totalitarianism.
In Czech and Slovak with subtitles. North American Premiere.