Review from Time Out Film Guide by BBA
Part One (Talent Competition) cuts between rehearsals/performance by rival brass bands and the competing attraction of a cross-country motorbike race. Part Two (Audition) anticipates the audition scenes in Taking Off, as a throng of female singers try out for a part in a show. Though originally made as separate featurettes, the two episodes form a plausible entity, being so similar stylistically and thematically. The approach is documentary with some fictional elements gently interpolated - in the first the defection of two youthful trombonists, in the second the lightly sketched backgrounds of two of the singers. Extremely assured for an apprentice work, this displays the same mix of shrewdness and tenderness that marked all Forman's early films. But as with many East European movies of this era, one suspects that a political allegory is concealed at the heart of it all.
Review from the University of California
Forman made his independent debut with two medium-length films, Competition (Konkurs) and If There Were No Music (Kdyby Ty Muziky Nebyly), shown jointly in 1964 under the title Competition. His style, which was evident from the beginning, was simple: focus the eye of the camera as closely as possible on human detail, and then put on the screen, in uncensored form, everything that turns up as a result of such a microscopic view. The result of this method, as it became obvious in Forman's later films, was unexpected: in addition to painstaking observations of individual people and their daily lives, another portrait appeared on the screen, a merciless portrait of the whole fabric of society, the like of which Czechoslovak film had never produced before. The whole offered to view an embarrassed, convulsive grimace, a countenance verging on the grotesque; but Forman laughed with gusto and with no condescension at what he saw, and the audience laughed with him, accepting him as one of themselves.