Polish cinema has a history of films based around the family shenanigans that occur during Christmas, or weddings, or other major anniversaries and celebrations. Pitor Domalewski's feature sits comfortably within this tradition, neither breaking and blurring the boundaries of the form, nor sinking like a stone. It is first and foremost a drama, but like so many of these films, a little knowledge of Polish culture and traditions would key the viewer in to an undercurrent of rather aggressively dark comedy (a film like Smarzowski's WESELE, does this most explicitly).
Dawid Ogrodnik and Tomasz Zietek star as siblings in a rural Polish family, that has made a habit of burying as many secrets as they have stolen Christmas trees from the neighbouring forest. Ogrodnik's character has returned from Holland where he has been trying to start a new life with his pregnant partner. To do this he needs to sell their grandfather's property, so that he can put this capital into a new business venture, or at least this is what he tells his mother, father, sister and brother - nothing is quite as it seems.
There is a brilliant ensemble cast at work here, with the always watchable Arkadiusz Jakubik as their broken father, a man who is weighed down with the guilt of having been an absent and failed father figure. Agnieszka Suchora is the put-upon matriarch, who for better or worse, has kept her family together, even if it seems to have done very little for the health and happiness of any of its members.
Domalewski keeps things murkily mysterious at first, keeping the audience guessing as to just how far the rot has gone in this family. Yet as the vodka begins to flow a little more freely the film lurches into full-on melodrama, with some surprising revelations and some clunkily executed metaphors and motifs (especially surrounding Poland's relationship to the rest of Europe). Everything is well made, but for keen watchers of Polish cinema it will feel a little uninspiring, especially considering the talent that is on display. I am pretty certain that Ogrodnik's passages in English are going to be a calling card for more international roles for this exciting young actor.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
Adam unexpectedly visits his family house at Christmas after a few years of working abroad. No family member knows about his secret plans and the real reasons of his visit.
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April 15, 2018 at 06:55 PM