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Servants(Služobníci)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic
·
2020

1h 20m

Director Ivan Ostrochovský
Starring Samuel Skyva, Samuel Polakovič, Milan Mikulčík, Vladimír Strnisko

Genre Drama

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Czechoslovakia, 1980: two friends apply to study at a Roman Catholic seminary in order to escape the moral devastation of society under the communist regime. But they soon discover that the seminary is controlled by Pacem im Terris, an organisation of clerics willingly collaborating with the regime.

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80

Variety by Guy Lodge

Servants is briskly shaped at just under 80 minutes, yet its alien-historical world-building is effective enough that you emerge from it feeling both out of time and out of breath: Any longer, and all humanity would bleed out of this earthly-but-ethereal conspiracy drama entirely.
80

The New York Times by Natalia Winkelman

Ostrochovsky often begins shots with characters frozen in place for several seconds before they launch into action, as if they were chess pieces moved by God across the bare lines of the seminary’s crumbling stone architecture.
80

The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

Pure evil permeates this brief, 80-minute film, whose cold visual brilliance reminds me of the recent movies of Paweł Pawlikowski. It wasn’t until some time after it had finished that I grasped one of the reasons it was so oppressive: there are no women in it at all. There is a chill of political fear.
90

Screen Daily by Sarah Ward

This is an unsettling rebuke of government control and ideological manipulation — as well as a sharp cry against compliance with the prevailing status quo.
80

The Observer (UK) by Simran Hans

Ostrochovský’s camera emphasises the constricting architecture of both church and state, with its black and white morality and a claustrophobic central courtyard, frequently portrayed via stiff, judgmental God’s-eye shots.