‘Charlatan’: Film Review


Agnieszka Holland's biopic of Czech faith healer Jan Mikolášek is an uneven but not uninteresting balance of moral inquiry and queer romance.

At several points in “Charlatan,” the camera looks glossily on as our protagonist holds small bottles of amber liquid to the light, academically scrutinizing their contents as they beam a light golden glow onto his features: an effect both ennobling and almost romantic. The man is Jan Mikolášek, a famous Czech herbalist and healer with almost uncanny powers of intuitive diagnosis; the radiant bottles, meanwhile, contain various samples of human urine. This amusing disconnect between base content and burnished treatment somewhat echoes the conflicted perspective of Agnieszka Holland’s handsome, intelligently questioning but slightly dry biopic.

A Powerful Healer Fights His Own Demons


No sooner had veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland premiered her latest feature, Mr. Jones, at the Berlinale earlier this year than she went straight onto the set of a new period piece: Charlatan, the true story of Czech healer Jan Mikolášek, who cured five million people in the first half of the 20th century, despite lacking any formal medical education.

Mikolášek healed celebrities in the 1930s, Nazi officers in the 1940s, and saved the life of Czechoslovakia’s Communist president Antonín Zápotocký in the 1950s. In the eyes of Holland and her collaborator, Czech Lion–winning screenwriter Marek Epstein, Mikolášek was an extraordinary figure, blessed with a gift for healing, yet fighting inner demons. In their film, he will be played by Ivan Trojan, one of the Czech Republic’s most acclaimed actors, a six-time Czech Lion winner, and his 18-year-old son Josef Trojan, who will portray the young Mikolášek onscreen.

Agnieszka Holland’s ‘Charlatan’ Wraps, Sets Premiere Date (EXCLUSIVE)


After 38 days of filming, the final clapperboard has been snapped shut on “Charlatan,” Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s latest film, and it’s a wrap. The film will premiere on Feb. 20, 2020, which offers the possibility of a launch at the Berlin Film Festival (Feb. 20-March 1).

“Charlatan” was shot in several locations in the Czech Rep. in April and June. Holland, producer Sarka Cimbalova of Czech Rep.’s Marlene Film Production and the Czech screenwriter, Marek Epstein, will attend the Karlovy Vary Film Festival Wednesday to present the project live on Czech Television, which backed the movie.

The film is inspired by the true story of healer Jan Mikolasek, who dedicated himself to caring for the sick, in spite of the huge obstacles he faced in his private and public life.

Agnieszka Holland Shoots Healer Tale ‘Charlatan’


Agnieszka Holland, the director of Oscar nominated films “Europa Europa” and “In Darkness,” has begun shooting her latest pic, “Charlatan.” Films Boutique is handling foreign sales.

The Polish director, whose last film “Mr. Jones” premiered in competition at Berlin Film Festival in February, started to lens the pic Monday in Mladá Boleslav prison in the Czech Republic. The crew will spend most of this month on location in the Central Bohemia region of the country.

The pic, about an herbalist who devotes his life to caring for the sick despite many difficulties, is inspired by the real-life figure of Jan Mikolášek, whose story was adapted for the screen by Marek Epstein. Ivan Trojan, six-time winner of the Czech Lion award, plays Mikolášek.




  • Zuzana Janák
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