The Glass Room (\N)

Carice van Houten, Hanna Alström, Roland Møller, Karel Roden,
The Glass Room is a movie starring Hanna Alstr?m, Claes Bang, and Alexandra Borbély. Liesel Landauer and her friend Hana are linked by a lifelong relationship and an exceptional house built by the architect Von Abt for Liesel and...
  • 5.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Simon Mawer, Andrew Shaw, Writer:
  • Julius Sevcík, Director:
  • Rudolf Biermann, Producer:

All subtitles:


8 / 10

A beautiful love story

I was not expecting much from this film but was actually very impressed with the cinematography and the story. It is well worth a watch and you would have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by it.

6 / 10


Greetings again from the darkness. The world famous Villa Tugendhat is a physical, emotional, and visual metaphor for the collapse of the Czech Republic in this film from director Julius Sevcik (LOST GIRLS AND LOVE HOTELS, 2020). Writer Andrew Shaw (VOICE FROM THE STONE, 2017) adapted the script from Simon Mawer's 2009 best-selling book, "The Glass Room". The family melodrama is fictionalized, but the house itself is the character around which everything else revolves. And what a house it is.

Viktor (Claes Bang, TV mini-series "Dracula", and THE LAST VERMEER, 2020) commissions noted architect Von Abt (Karel Roden) to build a home for Viktor's new bride, Liesel (Hanna Alstrom, the KINGSMAN movies). Liesel works closely with the architect to create a modern masterpiece that is the envy of their Czechia town of Brno. The heart of the stunning structure is a glass room, causing Abt to ask Liesel, "Are you ready to live in the light?" Liesel's close friend Hana (Carice Van Houten, LOST GIRLS AND LOVE HOTELS, 2020), who wishes they were even closer, spends a great deal of time visiting at the home. Liesel's bliss is shaken when she discovers Viktor is having an affair with their nanny, Kata (Alexandra Borbely, ON BODY AND SOUL, 2017).

If she thought that was the worst thing that could happen, Liesel soon finds things much worse. She and her Jewish husband escape to Zurich just as the Nazi occupation occurs. Hana and her Jewish husband are not so fortunate, and not only is she separated from her lifelong friend, she is forced to do what she must to protect her husband, and that includes an affair with a German contractor named Stahl (Roland Moller, THE LAST VERMEER, 2020). It seems all of our characters are doing what they must, and they all seem to be thinking of someone other than the one they are with.

The second half of the film is much stronger than the first, as real tension exits. Ms. Van Houten is superb in her performance as Hana, and she carries this part of the story. It's through her eyes that we see the transformations of Liesel's beautiful home. The symmetry with what's happening in the country is unmistakable, and Hana is at the heart of the film's message ... love endures and overcomes. The issue with the film is that we never really connect with any character but Hana. Viktor and Liesel are out of sight for an extended period of time, leaving us with what is a great idea for a film - but one that lacks the necessary depth.

Regardless of that, it's a gorgeous film to watch ... thanks in no small part to the work of cinematographer Martin Strba. The film stretches from the early 1930's to the late 1960's and the production design is spot on. Some interesting notes include Villa Tugendhat was actually designed by German architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, and the Tugendhat family did actually flee the home. German plane designer Willy Messerschmitt actually lived in the house while it was being used as a design studio, much like the character Stahl in the film. It's a shame the script doesn't do justice to the cast and the home, but this one falls short of being a must see.Available VOD on March 5, 2021

9 / 10

In love with this movie

It's a very beautifully crafted movie. I love the costume and cast. More to the message of the movie. Even in the darkest time, you can fine a light. Love wins.

4 / 10

A near perfect example of how not to adapt a novel

The Glass Room (novel) is a fantastic story about a house. the people whose lives are connected to it, their relationships, and the transformations of the country it is in.

The Glass Room (Film) is a mess.

Everything that was great about the book is missing from the film. The characters are mere cardboard cut outs of those that grow and develop so wonderfully in the novel. No time is spent establishing any of them, nor their relationships.

The star of the novel, the house, is never shown in its glory in the film, only a few overly repeated angles that never let the house truly shine. And the many significant historical milestones are flipped from one to the other as if mere inconveniences.

Those who have not read the book must spend the first 30 minutes of the film in complete and utter confusion, barely having a clue who each person on screen is and what they mean to each other.

As such they will be frustrated. Likewise those who enjoyed the book, seeing its essence removed and only a watery reflection of it remaining. Those who watch based on the marketing, especially from the US where it goes by the thoroughly misleading title The Affair, who think they are watching a Lesbian love story will be frustrated for the most part.

A real shame that such an excellent story, cast and location are wasted on this terrible film.

5 / 10

Czech historical drama is okay, but just okay

"The Affair" (2019 release; 104 min.) brings the story of best friends Liesel and Hana, and their attachment to a particular house. As the movie opens, we are in the 1930s and newlyweds Liesel and Viktor meet with a famous architect, and he designs and builds a fabulous house for them, with glass windows from floor to ceiling and an overall minimalist and modern feeling. It's not long before Liesel has a baby, and then another. Hana is herself trying desperately to get pregnant. Then the Nazis cross into Czechoslovakia and force Liesel and her family to flee... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is a Ccech mega-production, directed by Julius Sevcík. The film is the big screen adaptation of the novel "The Glass Room" by British author Simon Mawer. I didn't read the book and hence cannot comment on how closely the movie sticks to the book. Spanning a good 30 years (up to the 1968 invasion by the Soviets), this historical drama has all the makings of a thrilling movie, in which we follow the fates of several families, and that one fabulous house. But when you are watching it all unfold, several things do not add up and feel strangely removed, or simply manufactured. There are a number of other issues that bother me. First, why was the movie's title changed from "The Glass Room" (which would make perfect sense) to "The Affair"? Second, when you look at the movie's poster, it is very misleading (for reasons that become clear once you see the movie). Third, the new title is confusing as one of the movie's lead performers, Danish actor Claes Bang, starred in the long-running Showtime TV series called "The Affair", which to be clear has nothing to this with this film. Last but not least, after seeing the film, I was curious about that house and it didn't take me long to find that indeed this house was built for real in the 1930s for the Tugendhat family. One of the family's real-life descendents decried the book upon its publication, saying that "first the Nazis took our house, and now Mawer took our story". (Please note that the film does not reference this historical link in any manner, presenting this as pure fiction.) Despite all these misgivings, there are some great elements to the film, including the lead performances be Dutch actress Carie va Houten (as Hana) and Swedish actress Hanna Alstrom (as Liesel). This film gathered 6 nominations for the Czech equivalents of the Oscars, mostly for second-tier categories like Best Cinematography, Stage Design, and Costume Design. Bottom line: "The Affair" is an okay, but just okay, historical drama that feels like a missed opportunity for something much bigger than what we end up watching.

"The Affair" premiered 2 years ago in Europe, and out of the blue it was released this weekend in select US theaters. I have no idea how or why that is, and why it's released in the US right now. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended so-so: 5 people to be exact including myself, which is par for the course for most films I've seen during these COVID-19 times. I can't imagine this will play more than a week or two in theaters before this moves on to streaming. If you are in the mood for a historical drama playing out over 3 decades in central Europe, I>'d readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.