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72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Jan Dít? is short in height, but high in ambition. To put it bluntly, the young provincial waiter wants to become a millionaire. And he knows just how to do it: by hearing everything, seeing everything, and creating opportunities at every turn. Armed with this knowledge and an irrepressible wish to please, he soon leaves his first place of employment, a pub, for a luxury brothel and, finally moving onto an elegant Art Nouveau Prague restaurant. But by the late 1930s, things are changing: Hitler has taken the Sudetenland region and is breaking apart Czechoslovakia. Jan falls in love with Líza, a Sudeten German proud of her Aryan blood. They marry, and soon after Líza is sent to serve on the Polish front, while Jan remains behind to serve as a nurse in
    a Nazi SS Research Hospital, but when she returns, she has a fortune in rare stamps that Jews had ‘left behind’ ... After Líza’s less than heroic death, Jan sells
    the stamps and becomes ... a millionaire. But he only has three years to enjoy his fortune: the new Communist regime puts him behind bars for 15 years, one for each of his millions... Upon his release from jail, Jan is sent to live in a decrepit border town. Here Jan reflects on the events that have shaped his life – and to reflect on what might have happened if he had played a different role in these events. (Sony Classics)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. It's a giddy nightmare. Nothing is quite what it seems in I Served the King of England, and this is poetically appropriate. The world it depicts is too dangerous and too lovely to classify.
  2. 90
    If this actually were 1968, the pipe-smoking sophisticates of "Esquire" and "Playboy" would be proclaiming I Served the King of England a nettlesome masterpiece. For whatever good it does this film today, I'll stick my pipe in my mug and agree.
  3. A film as unique as this is a gift that shouldn't be ignored.
  4. Viewers will be swept away by the beauty of individual moments and by Ivan Barnev's extraordinary performance.
  5. Menzel’s touch is sprightly, lyrical, mischievously understated.
  6. 70
    Menzel strings his sequences together with great affection and skill, but the movie, an absurdist picaresque, doesn't have much cumulative impact, and perhaps the hero is too much a lightweight to hold an epic together.
  7. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    40
    I Served the King of England, like its hero, is surrounded by and infused with the potential for meaning but feels like a lark: a bit of nothing whistling past the graveyard of 20th century European history without a thing to do but indulge itself.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6