Redundant and unnecessary.
This is a coming of age storyline that you've seen in one form or another for decades. It takes a truly unique voice to make yet another one worth watching.
The story, direction, characters, and writing/dialogue is akin to taking a tranquilizer shot to the neck, but everything else was so well done.
Worth seeing just to witness how winsome it is.
-Minor Spoilers-I was impressed with the acting, but pretty much everything else was a hit and a miss; poor scripted dialog, bad editing and the storytelling was embarrassingly obvious - radiated a lack of cinema experience from the directors side. Basically, a sweet attempt to make a farce, but nothing more.Had a few moments of missed great comic opportunities like the scene at the attic which kept calling out for more (could have been great), the poison scene was blatantly non-mysterious when it could have been a jaw-doping scene of disbelieve and we have of cause the no-surprise buildup to the son at the airport in the end. Its many quirks of techniques (e.g. the odd almost random present- day shots from time to time - and not because of the bad old-woman makeup - and the momentarily out of focus shots) did not work or support its purpose, thus repeatedly reminding us of itself and creating a theatre like distance which made it impossible to emotionally truly identify with any of the characters: A fatal flaw of any would-be comedy, be it black or not! At its core I can see the story holds a hint of potential, but not enough to carry a feature film - well unless a serious makeover in the story was done, adding subplots etc. Film school 101.Rome wasn't build in one day, but neither was Warszawa it seems ... so Polish cinema will hopefully learn from this empathy seeking mishmash of a dark comedy attempt and return at some point with some true heartfelt cinematic storytelling instead? (I intentionally leave this with a question mark)
Sophisticated dark comedy/ Thriller film noir set in Stalinist Poland of the 50ies plays out perfectly the times where fear for the party ruled every day life and only an abundance of Wodka could smooth things out.Spinster and plain Jane Sabina, leads an uneventful life sharing an apartment with her mother and grandmother, working for a Warsaw publishing house. Just when almost given up on finding a husband, she runs seemingly by chance into mysterious macho Bronislaw, perfectly casted Dorocinski. Quickly how ever the reason for the suitor is revealed. The women have to stick together to get out of this one.
On the backdrop of Polish cinema this was a refreshing experience showing that Polish movies don't have to fall into two very typical categories: A) dumb and entertaining; B) drab and bleak. This debut from Borys Lankosz has an atypical feel to it with a nicely paced composition of ingenuity, subtle humour, homage touches (with a Casablanca-like character to boot) and delicate Communist nostalgia.Mid-20 Sabina Jankowska (Agata Buzek) lives with her mother (Krystyna Janda) and her grandmother (Anna Polony) in Stalin-era Warsaw. She works in a state printing house as an editor, but most of her focus seems to be on finding a man in life. Quiet and subdued she goes unnoticed by most, whilst those who do notice her are not in her sphere of interest. Until one night she is saved from two muggers by a handsome mysterious young man Bronisław Falski (Marcin Dorociński). Will this be Sabina's love of her lifetime? Filmed in black and white and completed with real life footage back from the 1950s showing the rebuilding of Warsaw it is definitely an engaging experience. Even more so that the lead character of Sabina played by Agata Buzek, who gives a masterful and thankfully subtle performance. Also Marcin Dorociński is superb in his role - starting off as a noir-type hero to effortlessly transform into a simpleminded arrogant prick. Unfortunately the rest of the lead characters are very much Polish old-school acting, so over-exuberance and woodenness are all too obvious (an especially unconvincing performance was given by Polish legend Janda). That said I just get easily irritated by the type of acting so prevalent in Polish movies, so I may be biased...All in all a very nice movie. Photography is good (lighting is great and settings are of a very high standard), but some of the scenes seem to be overcooked just so that the DOP can show off some ideas, although it added nothing to the scenes. I also have issues with the colour scenes (set in modern times), which seem poorly done as if made by a totally different crew. Well maybe it's true that is is easier to shoot in B&W given the proper lighting? The script is generally fine, although some dialogues are overly poetic, complex and hence unrealistic, especially when coming from the mouth of a supposedly uneducated Bronisław. Also there are some real inconsistencies in the plot itself (Bronisław said he told his secret-service comrades that he was dating Sabina, yet no one thought of interrogating her about his disappearance?) as well as some very unlikely key plot moments (it is very highly unrealistic that Bronisław could have known that Sabina is swallowing a gold coin). I did however like the subtle humour, even though I felt some of the scenes quite forced and they never really flew for me.Definitely a good sign that such a movie was made. But on the other hand I feel that local exaltations over this Polish noir flick are highly exaggerated. It's an OKish movie by international standards, albeit a good one for Polish norms (for a similar but superior movie see "Das Leben des Anderen"). A building block with hope for a new future breed of Polish filmmakers.
With some films black and white photography is used as a cheap device to supposedly convey the mood of the past despite editing techniques and lighting that could only belong to the 21st century. Not so this film. The black and white photography reminded me of such classics as the Third Man, with deep black shadows and superb lighting, skills that I thought were lost decades ago. The cinematography and editing are unapologetically European, rather than American.The mood of Warsaw in the period shortly after the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising is chillingly portrayed, while scenes in the present, shot in colour, are intriguing short episodes rather than annoying tricks, which such flashbacks/flashes forward often can be. Because the less you know in advance about the plot and events the better, all I will say is that while it it has humour in places, it is mostly of the noir variety. This well-paced intriguing thriller makes you want to know what will happen next, gives you some surprises and doesn't reveal the full story until near the ending, which was moving, funny, and probably could relate to many women deeply affected by world events over which they have no control.All round excellent casting and acting, with Agata Buzek conveying Sabina beautifully. It's a relief to find a film where production values come first. It certainly made me think, and still does, one month after I saw it at the Karlovy Vary film festival. See it if you like the best of European cinema.