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Graced by dynamic lead performances and spirited direction, this autobiographical film proves hard to resist even if it lacks the sort of rawness and restlessness that usually goes with the punk territory.
As a result, the country’s official best foreign language submission for Oscar consideration holds a more benign, mainstream appeal which could play well with international audiences.
While 18-year-old Janek (the charismatic Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) and his buddies voice their teen male dissatisfaction with their punk rock quartet, his navy captain father (Andrzej Chyra) is forced to take sides as growing unrest between the Communist party and the Solidarity movement leads to the declaration of martial law.
But midnight curfews and imposing censorship fail to crush his rebellious spirit, especially where his passionate romance with the lovely Basia (Olga Frycz) is concerned.
Writer-director Borcuch eschews the expected jittery camerawork and jagged cuts that often serve as visual cues for the punk era in favor of letting Michael Englert’s camera linger reflectively over his sympathetic lead characters or the moody, undulating waves that hem in Janek’s seaside town.
Although it’s all certainly pleasing to take in, the thoughtful approach is at the expense of a subdued energy level that ultimately robs the punk manifesto and — Janek’s rage against the machine — of some of that vital angry young impulsiveness.
Venue: Palm Springs International Film Festival
Production companies: Canal+, Prasa I Film, TVP
Cast: Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Olga Frycz, Andrzej Chyra, Jakub Gierszal
Director-screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch
Producers: Renata Czarnkowska-Listos, Jan Dworak
Director of photography: Michal Englert
Production designer: Elwira Pluta
Music: Daniel Bloom
Costume designer: Magdalena Maciejewska
Editors: Agnieszka Glinska, Krysztof Szpetmanski
No Rating, 95 minutes
Sales Agent: Palisades Tartan
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