"The film you are about to see... bears no resemblance to reality. It is only a play in which everything is distorted & exaggerated. Life isn't like this." Schorm's wry, subtle, devastating joke, of which the rest of the film is the punchline. Alienation & sublimation under conditions of repression (with Bergman-like themes of redemption). Of it's time, and stunted by censors, but (sadly) no less relevant for it.
Think of this as the Pierrot from behind the iron curtain. Equally as histrionic and frenetic, but its absurdism is darker, oneiric, more pyschologically elaborate and paced. Brejchová's little stumbles and Kačer's mopey wayfarers are beautiful counterparts to Karina's violent enchantress eyes and Belmondo's cigarettes. Easily my favorite film of this genre.