– Natálie Císařovská navigates the intersections of identity, autonomy and societal perceptions in her feature-length fiction debut, presenting the transformative journey of Andrea Absolonová

Review: Her Body

Natália Germáni in Her Body

Emerging Czech documentarian Natálie Císařovská, known for her work in docu-fiction and docu-drama, is presenting her first fiction feature, the biographical drama Her Body, in the Critics’ Picks section of Tallinn Black Nights. The film offers a compelling, unvarnished examination of the life and career of the late Andrea Absolonová, a Czech diver who became a porn actress. Rather than succumbing to sensationalism, Her Body offers a thoughtful exploration of identity, autonomy and the perception of the female body in industries that both exploit physical performance, yet are met with disparate levels of respect and reverence.

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Absolonová is embodied by Slovakian actress Natália Germáni (Nightsiren [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Tereza Nvotová
film profile
]
). The story retraces her early triumphs in diving, subsequently derailed by a career-halting injury. The script, co-authored by Císařovská and Aneta Honzková, draws on accounts from Absolonová’s sister, Lucie, portrayed by Denisa Barešová (Victim [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Michal Blaško
film profile
]
), who shared her experiences. The movie explores the sisters’ complicated relationship, positioning it as an anchoring motif. The family dynamic is further accentuated by the casting of Slovak actress Zuzana Mauréry (Saving One Who Was Dead [+see also:
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interview: Václav Kadrnka
film profile
]
) and Czech actor Martin Finger (The Word [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Beata Parkanová
film profile
]
) as the parents. They convey contrasting perspectives on their daughter’s transition from sports to the adult film industry, mirroring broader societal attitudes towards such career shifts.

Following an abrupt end to her athletic career, Andrea navigates the challenges of adapting to life beyond the elite sporting world. Her initial foray into everyday employment as a cashier in a small grocery store soon proves to fall short of her aspirations. Recognising her physique as her primary asset, Andrea ventures into modelling, a decision that leads her to encounters with individuals from the adult film industry. Seizing the opportunity presented, she embarks on a new professional journey in this field. At the start of this chapter, she adopts the stage name Lea de Mae, rapidly gaining recognition in her newfound vocation.

Císařovská engages with the biopic, a genre currently enjoying widespread popularity in Czech cinema; however, her approach markedly diverges from conventional narratives. Her Body bears a resemblance to Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure [+see also:
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interview: Ninja Thyberg
film profile
]
in its candid depiction of the adult entertainment industry, echoing the thematic elements of autonomy and challenging stereotypes. This film offers an insightful exploration of the scenes of both professional sports and the porn industry, portraying a woman’s journey to achieving professional self-actualisation, confronting psychological, social and physical challenges along the way. Her pursuit culminates not just in stardom and an upmarket lifestyle, but also in a sense of fulfilment. Crucially, Her Body neither demonises nor glorifies either industry. True to the director’s documentary roots, the film authentically recreates the experiences of adult performers who also star in the film (Alexis Crystal serves as the protagonist’s body double).

Her Body represents a departure for Císařovská, a transition from her previous work in magical-realist and poetic biopics to a drama that embraces a raw, documentary-like realism. The director employs visual metaphors to reflect the protagonist’s resilience and determination. However, said metaphors can sometimes seem superfluous, given the film’s explicit thematic emphasis, which allows limited scope for the audience’s imagination. Despite this, the film stands out as a mature debut. As a biopic, Her Body will engage audiences unfamiliar with Andrea Absolonová’s brief yet intense life. The film contextualises her story while transcending personal drama to portray the life of a woman challenging societal and period norms.

Her Body was produced by Czech production outfit Cineart TV Prague, in co-production with Czech Television, Slovakia’s Silverart SK and Slovak television network TV JOJ. Bontonfilm will handle the theatrical release in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The film will be released in cinemas in two versions: an 18+ version for adult audiences and an edited, 15+ version for younger theatregoers.

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