This biopic of Czech actress Jirina Stepnicková opens with footage of Marysa (1935), the film that made her a star, before fast forwarding to 1951. The intervening years, not covered in the film, saw Stepnicková become one of the leading lights of Czech cinema and theatre, despite refusing to act in German films during the Nazi’s occupation of her country. After the war though, Stepnicková’s refusal to join the ruling Communist Party saw her film roles dry up and her stage roles diminish. It is at this point that the story kicks off, following Stepnicková's plans to escape her homeland after receiving promises of work from a former director. Unbeknownst to her, it’s all a trap.
Rather than focus purely on Stepnicková’s plight, Trap broadens its scope to illustrate this chapter in Czechoslovakia’s history. The famous show trials of leaders such as Rudolf Slánský and Otto Šling serve as a backdrop for Stepnicková’s former colleagues to ponder her fate. Though one gains a greater understanding of the oppression and paranoia felt by the Czech people at this time, it comes at the expense of investing in Stepnicková herself. The harsh treatment inflicted upon her during interrogations and imprisonment is frequently undercut by excursions back to the theatre where these fictional characters wrestle with their collective conscience.
It falls to a remarkable performance by Adam Vojtek as Stepnicková’s son to provide Trap with some genuine emotion. Not since E.T's Henry Thomas has a child actor so effectively pulled at our heart strings. Otherwise, Trap is a interesting story, matter-of-factly told.
as Jirina Stepnicková
Biopic avoids naming actors who betrayed Stepnicková by opening with the following statement -
Only some of the main characters are based on actual persons. Any similarity to other persons is purely coincidental.
Though Stepnicková is told she is allowed no visitors, her son was able to visit her while she was imprisoned.
Stepnicková did not learn her capture was a Communist plot to entrap her until after she left prison.
Biopic recreates a scene from Kohout plasí smrt (1962). Also opens and closes with original footage from Marysa (1935).