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Review of the third season of the Iveta miniseries – 2024-05-11 15:06:54

Italy, year 2013. Josef Rychtář, the owner of the security agency at the time, throws off his T-shirt and rushes to the house where, according to him, Iveta Bartošová is imprisoned. He screams her name and bangs on the door furiously. Passers-by watch him with concern. Everything is filmed by a tabloid cameraman.

Almost everyone who watched the news 11 years ago remembers those shots. It was impossible to escape the tragicomic events surrounding one of the biggest stars of normalizing pop music. By documenting the fall of singer Iveta Bartošová, Nova TV also “inflated” the viewership numbers. In 2022, a live series called Iveta was created for her streaming platform Voyo. From Friday, the third, last series can be seen there.

Relations with singer Petr Sepeš and manager Ladislav Štaidl are already a thing of the past, just like sold-out halls. The heroine lives only for her son Artur. In the first of three episodes, set in the summer of 2011, they enjoy a seaside holiday. The sun is shining, Iveta Bartošová is smiling. Symmetrical composition also creates a sense of harmony.

But as dictated by the laws of the melodramatic genre, the idyll cannot last long. The trouble starts right away when the singer’s Audi crashes into a truck on the way home.

The rest of the series follows the holder of three Golden Nightingales as she tries to restore her balance and simply be with her son. But he has less and less control over events. In previous series, she was a puppet in the hands of music managers and composers living off her fame. Now the right to decide on her fate is claimed by a whole galaxy of dubious individuals, from the partners Josef Rychtář and Zdeňek Macura to the editor-in-chief of the tabloid website Pavel Novotný.

The first episode suggests that the main villain will be this former journalist and current mayor of Prague’s Řeporyjy for ODS. Filip Rajmont imitates his grins, gestures and impetuous babbling with such manic commitment that one fears for the actor’s sanity. A caricature of a man whom the series shows as the leader of the pack organizing the hunt for Bartošová, but later recedes into the background without this line being satisfactorily completed.

Filip Rajmont imitates Pavel Novotný’s grins, gestures and impetuous babbling. | Photo: Stanislav Honzík

The same goes for other key characters. For example, the singer’s sister Ivana flashes in a single shot. Disgusted, she closes the laptop on which she was playing the recording of Rychtář’s Italian rampage.

Despite the seeming redundancy, similar digressions help to articulate one of the central themes of the third season – the life of Iveta Bartošová and other celebrities has become a reality show in the media-filled 21st century, for which drama must be constantly created.

While the previous series stuck to the point of view of the unfortunate protagonist, the latest one, in which Bartošová essentially becomes public property, switches perspectives more often. In many scenes, we watch how the others come to an agreement, what kind of theater they will stage around the heroine. The split screen technique, i.e. a split image, is used several times, inducing the effect of ferocity and aggression. The opening title, according to which the tabloids, the public and the court are watching the singer’s every step, is telling in this regard.

Scream and wave your hands

In the first episode, Bartoš’s son Artur is taken from Bartoš by a court decision in 2011. After a sentimental farewell, the first of several, she has only a bottle of white wine to keep her company at home. But only until meeting the Magistrate, who too willingly takes on the role of protector.

In the background of their first flirtation, the installation of cameras around the singer’s villa is characteristically underway. A struggling businessman makes a nice face. In the performance of the excellent David Prachara, however, it is rather disturbing.

David Prachař as Josef Rychtář and Anna Fialová in the role of Iveta Bartošová. | Photo: Stanislav Honzík

And indeed. In the second episode, we discover that he is a narcissistic manipulator with violent tendencies, who hopes that his well-publicized protective gestures will secure Bartoš’s devotion. Again, the motive of visibility comes to the fore. It is not enough to help someone. You need to do it half-naked and in the presence of cameras, shouting and waving your hands a lot.

When Iveta Bartošová tries to make a comeback in the last and most concentrated part, her dazzling singing performance is overshadowed by Rychtář’s theatrical fight with Zdenek Macura, the last of the gallery of men who base their existence on the pursuit of the pop diva. Richard Krajčo also turns out to be a lucky casting choice. The part of the deranged, somewhat pitiable worshiper of Macura fits him perfectly.

The axis of the narrative is precisely this selection of “greatest hits”, a band of absurd, unfortunately true events, which the tabloids closely followed and encouraged. In addition, the series adds just a pinch of context, a few superficial glimpses into the behind-the-scenes of journalistic work. As a reminder of well-known cases, it therefore stands.

However, the dramaturgical justification of these scenes is more difficult to find. Due to the absence of a supporting conflict that would connect the individual storylines, Iveta lacks depth, especially in the middle part.

Rychtář’s rescue mission or the scenes with Rajmont’s irritable permonik, who cynically informs the editors that their actions will eventually lead Bartošová to the grave, are paradoxically more grateful to the audience than the contemplative, essentially plotless passages with the heroine herself. The script prescribes nothing more than to cry, to remember nostalgically and to embrace Arthur with love.

The first episode of the third season of the Iveta miniseries is on Voyo from Friday. | Video: Voyo

Creeping movements

Nevertheless, the chosen narrative principle reminds us that the Bartoš family did not have the main role in the story of their own life. Even more prominently than before, the drivers of the plot are other figures.

The heroine doesn’t even have the power to decide on anything. However, her deteriorating physical and mental condition, thanks to Anna Fialová’s perceptive acting and the work of the make-up artists, tells a powerful story by itself.

The actress’ empty gaze, creeping movements and indistinct articulation impressively describe the slow decay of the personality. In a TV interview, Bartošová languidly declares that she no longer wants to be a princess. But not and not to find another identity. She is not stable enough in the role of a mother due to toxic relationships and alcohol intoxication. The joy of returning to the stage, when she finds herself again in the center of the scene and seems confident for a moment, is ruined by a pair of goons fighting in the hall.

We are clearly aware of the heroine’s emptiness and gradual disappearance thanks to Martin Douba’s minimalist scenography and camera. Tatam is an extravagant game of all possible colors from the first and second rows. The exaggerated, almost monochromatic shots are dominated by neutral white and bright backlighting. The architecture, decorations and costumes of the actors are similarly sterile.

Deeper colors appear only in harmonious nature and flashbacks. Positive memories of childhood, Ladislav Štaidl or Petr Sepeši therefore appear as a distant, unattainable reality, which corresponds to the psychological state of the protagonist. She apparently cannot imagine that she will ever be happy again.

As the hand-held camera closes in on her swollen, makeup-free face, the edges of the image remain blurred, as if she is not even mentally present and unable to perceive the world around her soberly. In addition, the unstable image induces a feeling of slight dizziness or nausea.

In the new series, the singer tries to simply be with her son.  The picture shows Karel Šimek as Artur Štaidl and Anna Fialová in the role of Iveta Bartošová.

In the new series, the singer tries to simply be with her son. The picture shows Karel Šimek as Artur Štaidl and Anna Fialová in the role of Iveta Bartošová. | Photo: Stanislav Honzík

Who is to blame?

Although Iveta Bartošová remains an empty container without clear motivations, about which “no one knows what she really has inside”, as she says in the series shortly before her suicide in 2014. At the same time, thanks to the chosen stylistic procedures, we can experience, at least in rough outlines, what she she was going through in the last months of her life. This is also where the greatest value of the series lies.

As with other telenovelas, Iveta can be criticized for its cheesiness, schematism, or first-hand impression, but not for a lack of feeling and empathy.

The creators do not give a clear answer as to whether Bartošová became a victim of show business, her own addictions, or half-crazy men. But they avoid putting all the responsibility on her, which is done by her mother or Josef Rychtář in the series. According to them, the only way to get out of problems is by your own will.

That’s why the unobtrusive dialogue from the first episode sounds particularly important. We find ourselves in the household of Karel Bláha, Iveta’s fan, a mysterious character passing through all the series, whose meaning the creators reveal at the very end.

The daughter casually informs Bláh that she has started going to psychotherapy, and therefore he does not have to worry about her mental health. The startled father does not forgive the remark about the “nutcracker”, but the girl does not let herself be discouraged. She is obviously proud that she did what seems to be extremely difficult for Iveta Bartošová in the series for many reasons – she asked for help.

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