Petr Kazda and Tomás Weinreb's first feature is a blow-by-blow dramatization in black and white of what led 20-year old Olga Hepnarová to rent a truck on July 10, 1973, and plow into 20 people on a Prague sidewalk, killing eight and injuring 12 -- and becoming the last Czech woman and one of the last Europeans to be sentenced to execution. I, Olga Hepnarová is a stoic and sobering character study of a lonely, young lesbian murderess shunned by those around her. "I know I'm a psycho, but an enlightened one. One day you'll pay for your laughter and my tears," Olga (Michalina Olszanska) says in the one moment she speaks directly to the camera.
Director of photography Adam Sikora uses static wide shots that make people look small and insignificant, abstracting '70s Prague into psychogeography as Olga fights with her mom, takes punches from school bullies, and increasingly isolates herself from society. As Olga, Olszanska (also seen in the Polish mermaid cannibal musical The Lure) carries the film. Her hair is bobbed, her head is bent, and her shoulders are hunched -- she looks crushed from the weight of the world. A top performance for this year so far, Olszanksa's Olga is standoffish, frequently smoldering, rarely smiling, and she toes the line between intelligence and insanity. I, Olga Hepnarová is a bitter pill to swallow, focusing on the paradoxes of a misanthrope.