Kyle Cubr reviews “Ninety Degrees in the Shade” playing at the Siskel Center for Cine-File

subtext-eyeA film that hadn’t been available to the public only until recently, NINETY DEGREES IN THE SHADE is interesting for the fact that it was written and primarily cast by the British but shot in Prague by a Czech director and with a Czech crew. Alena (Anne Heywood) works at a shop under, among others, her pilfering, married manager with whom she’s having an affair. The shop is under inspection by an emotionally repressed auditor (who’s also having his own domestic issues), and when discrepancies in the stock are found, tragedy befalls all those involved. NINETY DEGREES draws elements from the Czech New Wave movement, classic British dramas, and just a sprinkle of film noir. These influences along with the rather morose script make for a pessimistic and somewhat depressing film. Alena’s love-hate relationship with her manager is the film’s focal point and it is examined both in real time as well as in numerous flashbacks. The web that’s woven as she fights to protect her coworkers from trouble and the internal struggle she feels regarding her adulterous relationship is disquieting. Jiri Weiss seeks to portray fully realized humans who are deeply flawed in an unflinching matter—a point that he very much achieves in making. Underlying guilt runs strongly throughout. With its mashup of European styles and techniques, NINETY DEGREES IN THE SHADE finds characters that, when placed under a microscope for close examination, are capable of the immoral, mischievous, and impulsive.

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