Saturday, November 21, 2015

Warsaw by Night [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* listing* (M. Kuprowski) review* (A. Mitrowska) review* (M. Steciak) review* (M. Piatkowska) review* (I. Kociełkiewicz) review* (J. Wróblewski) review* (M. Sielska) review* (K. Krajewska) review* (I. Szymańska) review*

Warsaw at Night [2015] [IMDb] []*[]* (directed by Natalia Koryncka-Gruz [IMDb] []*[]*, screenplay Marek Modzelewski [IMDb] []*[]*) is a cross between Sex in the City [wikip] [IMDb] and Crash [2004] [wikip] [IMDb] / The Polish Film School [wikip] [] [MSPresents] that played recently at the 2015 (27th annual) Polish Film Festival in America here in Chicago.

The resulting mix certainly produced a better, more serious, and certainly inclusive product than Sex in the City [wikip] [IMDb] (which featured basically upper middle-class women in their 30s / 40s basically "living the dream" in NYC today).  In contrast, the current film tells the stories of four contemporary Polish women of varying ages, classes / backgrounds and expectations who happen to simply pass through the restroom of a quite trendy club in the center of Warsaw at roughly the same time one evening.  These include:

Iga (played by Izabela Kuna [IMDb] []*) an artist in her 30s-40s who's out with her sister who recently discovered that her husband has been cheating on her with a significantly younger woman;

Helena (played by Stanisława Celińska [IMDb] []*) in her 60s, who on her birthday, can not but recall (and this time search out) her perhaps amiable if certainly loutish ex-husband who left her 35 years before;

Then there is 20-something Maya (played by Roma Gąsiorowska [IMDb] []*) who does look the part in the trendy-club, perhaps _too much_, as the man she strikes-up a conversation with and eventually picks-up initially thinks she's a prostitute. It turns out that would have been "fine by him" as he wasn't looking for anything particularly "complicated" for the night, but which does, somewhat, confuse her.

Finally, there's a blue-haired teenager from the Provinces, Renata (played by Marta Mazurek [IMDb] []*), who's been dragged to Warsaw by her mother, in the midst of a divorce and who, in the spirit of Blue is the Warmest Color [2014] takes advantage of being stuck there with her mom (visiting her mom's friends) to sneak-out with her mom's friend's teenage son to seek-out some somewhat older teen or young adult with whom she apparently had a brief lesbian fling "out there in the Provinces" during the summer.

In each case, past love's proven to be a disappointment.  It was noted by some of the Polish critics above that while certainly the variety of protagonists in the story makes the film somewhat more compelling than it could been (again, think of the rich, mostly problem-free women of Sex in the City [wikip] [IMDb]) all the women in the story appeared to be focused on (and tormented by) "romantic love" as if there was no other means of fulfillment for the various women in the film.  One critic asked: "Have we entered the 21st century yet?"*

It's a good point, but then a film like Crash [2004] [wikip] [IMDb] was built around a single concern (race) as well.   Still, I would agree that it would have served the film better if the women's characters in the film were more developed aspirationally.  But, I do wish to commend the film for at least trying to widen the circle of women protagonists present in a story.

 * Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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