New York Times - 02/05/1988
"...[Day-Lewis, Binoche and Olin] are surprisingly fine -- both modest and intense....Notably ambitious..."
Variety - 02/03/1988
"...Mature, serious and intellectual....Great films are seldom made from great novels, but THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING stands as a stunning and surprising exception..."
Los Angeles Times - 02/05/1988
"...Kaufman has made a fine-looking film. He has cast the three points of his erotic triangle bravely and adroitly..."
Sight and Sound - 10/01/2003
"...Kaufman's incorporation of documentary footage from 1968 is well executed..."
Premiere - 03/01/2004
"Kaufman proves that an American can direct a smart, sexy, and tasteful European-style art film."
Premiere - 06/01/2006 3 stars out of 4 -- "[A] contemplation of the meaning of life and death and sex and freedom and a whole lot in between....[I]t's a compellingly adult film..."
Sight and Sound - 06/01/2006
"[T]his is still intelligent and very well-crafted fare. Daniel Day-Lewis brings plenty of charm to his role..."
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING is a sensual and sensitive adaptation of Milan Kundera's tragicomic existentialist novel that follows the story of Thomas (Daniel Day Lewis), a womanizing Czech doctor in 1968 Prague, prior to the Soviet invasion, whose sexual appetite is never fully satisfied. Thomas believes in keeping sexual gratification separate from love and finds true understanding and erotic bliss with Sabina (Lena Olin), a seductive and elusive artist. However, Thomas's understanding of love and commitment is challenged when he meets Tereza (Juliette Binoche), a sexually naive and innocent young woman who captures Thomas's fancy on an out-of-town business trip. When Tereza appears on his Prague doorstep, Thomas lets down his guard and allows the young woman to stay with him, breaking all his rules regarding the dangers of seductive entanglement. Despite his numerous affairs, Thomas falls deeply in love with Tereza, and they eventually marry. Sabina accepts Thomas's marriage to Tereza, but Tereza cannot accept Thomas's many lovers and is deeply hurt by her sly husband. Tereza's own sexual awakening and creative spirit is at the core of the film, as she is undeniably captivating to both Thomas and Sabina, who becomes her friend and artistic mentor. The three become involved in an intense love triangle that is eventually shattered by the violent Soviet invasion of 1968. Tereza's burgeoning photographic passion is documented in a creative black-and-white montage of the invasion, beautifully crafted by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. This captivating and brilliant literary adaptation is a subtle and complex character study in which Daniel Day Lewis, Lena Olin, and Juliette Binoche give magnificent lead performances.
Philip Kaufman's film tells the erotic story of a womanizing Czech doctor in 1968 Prague, prior to the Soviet invasion, whose sexual appetite is never fully satisfied. Deeply in love with his young wife, Tereza, he finds true understanding only in bed with his lover, Sabina, who shares the same attitude about sex. Tereza does not and is deeply hurt by his numerous affairs. After the invasion, they leave for Switzerland, but Tereza cannot stand it and returns to Prague. Tomas realizes he cannot live without her and must decide how important his personal and sexual freedom really is to him.
Based On A Novel |
Essential Cinema |
Love Triangle |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: February 5, 1988.
Shot in France, Norway, Geneva, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S.
Estimated budget: $17 million.
Shooting began on September 15, 1986, and completed on January 1, 1987. Released on video December 29, 1988.