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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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Movie Info & Cast


In Philip Kaufman's surprisingly successful film adaptation of Czech author Milan Kundera's demanding 1984 bestseller, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Tomas, an overly amorous Prague surgeon, while Juliette Binoche plays Tereza, the waiflike beauty whom he marries. Even though he's supposedly committed, Tomas continues his wanton womanizing, notably with his silken mistress Sabina (Lena Olin). Escaping the 1968 Russian invasion of Prague by heading for Geneva, Sabina takes up with another man and unexpectedly develops a friendship with Tereza. Meanwhile, Tomas, who previously was interested only in sex, becomes politicized by the collapse of Czechoslovakia's Dubcek regime. The Unbearable Lightness of Being may be too leisurely for some viewers, but other viewers may feel the same warm sense of inner satisfaction that is felt after finishing a good, long novel.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Juliette Binoche
  • Lena Olin
  • Derek de Lint
  • Erland Josephson
  • Pavel Landovský
  • Donald Moffat
  • Daniel Olbrychski
  • Stellan Skarsgard

Atom User Reviews

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There is a lot of nudity in the film but no pornographic documentary quality; the camera does not linger, or move for the best view, or relish the spectacle of nudity. The result is some of the most poignant, almost sad, sex scenes I have ever seen - sensuous, yes, but bittersweet.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

A movie in the grand tradition of storytelling. It is intimate yet epic, a compelling human triangle played against the cataclysm of the 1968 Soviet invasion. [15 March 1988]

Bob Thomas
The Associated Press

Lightness' greatest contribution will be to send people to Kundera's book. As a film, it is thoughtful and well-meaning but long and uneven. The filmmakers' love for their subject recalls a line from Kundera's book: His love for Tereza was beautiful, but it was also tiring. That's what sitting through Lightness is like. [26 Feb 1988, p.C1]

Metacritic review by Hal Boedeker
Hal Boedeker
Miami Herald