Directed by: Věra Chytilová
Written by: Věra Chytilovám, Ester Krumbachová, Pavel Juráček
Starring: Jitka Cerhová & Ivana Karbanová
Processing traumatic events come in various forms and Daisies demonstrates a colorful and sneakily incredibly impactful vision of displaying angst and concern. In its own unique fashion, the film ensures you will scratch your head in confusion while also remaining incredibly dazzled by the two protagonists.
After falling out of the sky, Marie I (Jitka Cerhová) and Marie II (Ivana Karbanová) progress through various different stages of enjoying life while also duping others as they seem to have fun. Their actions seem devoid of real consequences until everything begins to fall apart.
Unquestionably odd in every way, Daisies presents itself as a film without any plot, but rather relies on the themes it works through its two leads. These two experience their life through their femininity in the way they manipulate men, but they seem anonymous and of a different world. Even looking at their names, Marie I and Marie II. Nothing really differentiates them from each other but they effortlessly stand out compared to everyone else in the feature. The lack of any definable plot comes from the way no scene allows itself to be explored before jumping into the next. Each of the vignettes where these two women explore a new venture appears to be stitched together randomly, but once you reach the conclusion of the film, it makes complete sense.
I cannot help but compare this film to Céline and Julie Go Boating because I watched the two in such short proximity of time, and their similarities ring true. While the French film has more of a plot even with its confusing nature, Daisies becomes a true assault on the senses in how erratic the color scheme and character motivations turn out. Certain scenes are shot in black and white while the others fill the screen with a wide array of colors. Each scene has its reasons, as it shows them in different circumstances with a message laced through each of them.
Once you get on the film’s wavelength, the anti-war message of Daisies makes itself incredibly clear in the way the film bookends the narrative and the actions of the two women. They live this spoiled sort of lifestyle where they go on dates with men just for the pleasure of them eating the food purchased for them. On one particular date, Marie I is on a date and Marie II joins them just to eat some of the food. The way the food gets consumed shows a real lack of appreciation of the world around them, which only gets magnified in the epic food fight scene. They enter a food hall where this elaborate feast has been prepared. They did not cook the food, they just happened to saunter into the space. Marie I and Marie II then decide to indulge in all of the food in the space before getting into a massive food fight. In a way, it reminded me of how bad I always wanted to get into a food fight in school. I’m pretty sure I could epically dump chocolate milk on someone through the green beans I never ate straight at my friend. It almost became therapeutic to watch, but as the women learn, their actions have consequences. Their selfishness leads them to be unprepared for the reckoning on its way.
Directing the feature is Věra Chytilová, and she does some whimsical things with this story in the way she displays each scenario these women discover. Each vignette has such a luscious production design and the message she attempts to break through truly leaves its mark. Her film’s place in the Czech New Wave of filmmaking cannot be questioned in the erratic nature of the editing and the type of story it brings forth. In just 76 minutes, it says plenty about the world around these women and the way they decide to go about it.
As quick and snappy as the film is, I implore anyone to give this film a chance to truly show its message as each sequence begins to pull back the layers of this feminine experience. From the strange noises to the whimsical nature of these two friends, Daisies provides a dizzying experience, which can be enjoyed on multiple levels. You may be left very confused during some segments, but once the conclusion runs near, the importance of its message and execution becomes perfectly clear.