My Sweet Little Village (1987): Jiri (“Closely Watched Trains”) Menzel’s Oscar Nominated Czech Fable of Ordinary People

My Sweet Little Village, by the noted Czech director Jiri (Closely Watched Trains) Menzel, was nominated for the 1987 Best Foreign Language Film.

The tale centers on the life of Otík, a mentally backward youngster who lives in a tight-knit village community. The sweet-tempered Otík works as an assistant truck driver with Mr. Pávek, his older colleague and practical-minded neighbor.

Pávek’s family takes care of Otík, whose parents are dead. However, the two coworkers come into conflict when Otík is unable to perform even the simplest tasks. Pávek demands that Otík be transferred to assist another driver, the choleric and suspicious man named Turek. Rather than work with Turek, Otík decides to accept employment in Prague, but finds he does not fit into big city life.

After discovering that Otík’s transfer to Prague was a trick by a crooked politician to get a deal on Otík’s large inherited house, Pávek offers Otík a second chance to work together.

Other humorous subplots involve the secret romance of Turek’s wife with a young veterinarian, the tribulations of accident-prone but respected doctor who has as much trouble with his pessimistic patients as with his car, and the desperate actions of Pávek’s teenage son, who’s smitten with the local teacher.