Michael Sauter
September 26, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Elementary School

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Jan Triska, Vaclav Jakoubek
genre
Foreign Language

We gave it a B+

Do we really need another schoolboys-coming-of-age film like The Elementary School? Well, yes, if it’s this one from Czech director Jan Sverak, whose Kolya won last spring’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Set near Prague in 1945 — after Nazi occupation but before Soviet rule — the film puts a bittersweet spin on some standard childhood epiphanies: Growing up in a landscape of burnt-out tanks and abandoned live artillery, these battle-hardened kids don’t have to catch their teacher with the tram driver’s wife in order to lose their innocence. Newly released on video, Sverak’s first feature paints an elegiac portrait of young people testing their wings in a fleeting moment of freedom. B+

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