The Girl Next Door
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Lupus films are often Euro-eccentric, but this story goes completely off the deep end. It makes no sense whatsoever. Faint supernatural elements are randomly tossed in adding up to head-scratching WTF? confusion. At least it has two decent canings and a good belting scene to distract one from the fever-dream narrative nonsense.
The film consists of three unrelated chapters or vignettes loosely connected by the silly device of having the titular "girl next door" (Trmotova) jump in unexpectedly on some flimsy pretense just before the punishments begin. She is also the niece of the shopkeeper, but takes no active part in any of the stories. So why is the film named after her? That is the first of a thousand unanswered questions in this muddled mish-mash.
Set in the 1900s, a shopkeeper (Rejnek) sells some food to a Mrs. Vavrova, who then leaves (more on her at the end). Then he and his niece nod at each other knowingly and she leaves. But what does it mean?
First vignette: "Of Family Joys" has an angry father (Stastny) giving his naked daughter a vigorous 40-stroke caning. Just before the first cane stroke falls, Trmotova bursts into the room asking to borrow a cup of sugar(!) It is obvious she really wants to watch the caning but is immediately tossed out -- making her entrance all the more absurd. The daughter (Katarina Zizkova) is a tad chubby, but her superb grapefruit sized breasts make up for it. Nice touch at the end with her kneeling on a pile of dried peas. Also a twist ending I won't give away here.
Second chapter: "Of Lost Honor" - another father catches his lovely blond daughter in bed with her boyfriend and thrashes her hard with his belt (the usual 40 stroke Lupus minimum). She is played by the absolutely gorgeous Magdalena Malenova (what a face!). Just before the strapping begins, however, Trmotova once again bursts into the room pretending to be the maid. Again, she is just as quickly thrown out before the punishment begins.
In the third chapter: "Of Those Who Buy and Sell", a stern governess (Alexandra Wolf) buys a cane from the shopkeeper to use on her charge "Hortenzie" (Vendula Steinova). The shopkeeper mutters some vague, suggestive nonsense to the governess who rolls her eyes and seems to fall under his spell. She agrees to test the cane out by whipping Hortenzie there in the store. Right on cue, the niece suddenly rushes in wanting to watch the proceedings. For the third time she is sent away, taking a package to "you know where" (no explanation given).
The caning is rather clumsy and unsatisfying with too much squirming and struggling, plus the girl's dress keeps getting in the way. A change in positon over a barrel -- the shopkeeper gallantly helps hold the girl down -- is better, but it's not quite enough.
After the women leave, the shopkeeper lights a candle by blowing on it, suggesting he has magical powers. Fade to a brief, off-the-wall misty dream sequence with the niece and a mysterious lady in black holding a cane. She orders the niece to pull down her skirt and bend over. But before anything happens, we fade back to the shop with Mrs. Vavrova from the opener returning to the store. She has changed her mind about buying some coffee as if only a moment has passed by. So the whole thing was simply the shopkeeper's dream? What's the point of any of this? And what about the niece's dream? Does she even exist? Why did she pop into each fantasy segment? He stares at Vavrova blankly as if he's as bewildered as we are.
So there you have it -- more incoherent nonsense from the industry's most eccentric filmmakers. They had a vaguely "magical" concept but no clue regarding logic, context or story structure. Any hack writer with half a brain could have done better. At least the production, sets, costumes, etc., remains top-notch, but the screenplays at Lupus need more quality control.
Final Note: The lovely Alexandra Wolf, who also works behind the scenes, is such an elegant beauty with great presence. It is a shame we don't see more of her on screen in meatier roles. (She usually plays bit parts.) And she's only played the victim once in a very exciting caning scene in "Stalin II". One can only hope Lupus will make better use of this lovely redhead.
Directed by: Lupus Pictures
Starring: Vaclav Josef Rejnek, Michaela Trmotova, Vendula Steinova, Alexandra Wolf, Katarina Zizkova, Pavel Stastny, Magdalena Malenova
Running Time: 35 min