Ah, the sex comedy – cinema’s most enduring delight. For nearly as long as there’s have been movies made for commercial exhibition, someone has found a way to lightly touch on that dirty little subject, and the masses (sometimes secretly) delight. Foreign films have especially relied on sex to sell their otherwise unfamiliar elements, and I always consider modern efforts in this arena to be something of a throwback, an acknowledgment of sorts of the medium’s ultimate mass allure – to take part in something socially frowned upon from a safe distance. On those light terms, Czech director Jan Hrebejk’s 4some (alternately titled The Holy Quaternity) is a delightful dive into the joys and unexpected side effects of middle-age sexual reawakening.
Vitek (Jiri Langmajer) and Ondra (Hynek Cermak) are reaching that stage of life at which their parenting duties are nearing an end – their teenage children, they remark early on, are hardly children anymore, and are in fact probably more sexually active than they. When offered a work assignment in the Caribbean, their wives – Marie (Marika Prochazkova) and Dita (Viktorie Cermakova), respectively – tag along, and off to paradise they’re whisked. Before long, Vitek sees an opportunity in this secluded area to “spice things up,” as they repeatedly phrase it, and he and Ondra begin plotting a way to do a little wife-swapping. While the set-up could have been mined for a Hangover-esque, bros-high-fiving “wild ride,” it turns rather towards the communal, idyllic, and fun. Until, that is, they return home, and can’t quite find a way to merge their ideal with the everyday.
Unfortunately, the real brunt of the comedy doesn’t kick in until the final act, and with a film that runs under 80 minutes, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for laughs. The film up ’til that point is certainly pleasant enough, if a little over-reliant on montage, and nicely portrays both the awkwardness and excitement (and, in the case of the men’s desire to see this thing through, both at once) of this odd little arrangement the couples have concocted. But there’s a sense of warmth there that’s a little at odds with the rest of the film, which is at its best when it gives its characters a certain amount of distance. It’s one thing for the film to reflect the exhilaration of the experiment, but the film asks for a level of personal attachment to its characters that hadn’t been previously established. Nevertheless, I found 4some to be a lot of fun; its exuberant approach to its subject goes a long way, and the ways in which it turns that feeling on its head in the last act are pretty great. Most sex comedies rely on the how-far-will-they-go tension, but this one succeeds by keeping things fairly simple. It might not amount to much, but it’s a pleasurably frothy comedy.
4some screens twice during the Portland International Film Festival at the Cinemagic theater on Hawthorne – once on Tuesday, February 19th at 8:45 PM, and again on Wednesday, February 20th at 6:00 PM.
Trailer below contains nudity past the 1:13 mark.