21 March 2005 | Smithborough
Beautiful but flawed
Csoda Krakkóban is an unusual tale. The plot revolves around Pjotr and Eszter the male and female led characters. Eszter is in Crakow restoring the gravestone of a rabbi who allegedly could raise the dead. She has acquired an old book to assist her. Pjotr steals the book in the belief that it holds the power to raise his grandmother from the dead. There are several bizarre multi lingual conversations between Pjotr and a (possibly dead) rabbi and an almost incidental romantic subplot between Pjotr and Eszter.
This movie was truly visually stunning. It was beautifully filmed in the wonderful old Jewish quarter of Crakow. Eszter, the lead character was wonderful. Unfortunately the film's main flaw was that it was trying to be too many things and ended up doing nothing of them well. Was it a love story? Well there was an sort of romance between Eszter and Pjotr, but his character came across as so dull and dodgy that I wondered what she saw in him. The use of different languages was quite unusual, it kept switching between Hungarian, Yiddish, English and Polish. This came across as an attempt to show off how clever the film was, rather than leading to any deep cultural insights. The Jewish themes in the film made me wonder if it was a reflection on Jewish identity. If it was then all I learnt was that they play a strange game with a spinning top. Although I liked the character of Eszter and that of the Rabbi, I left the film feeling deeply unsatisfied. This was particularly disappointing because so much of the film looked so beautiful and was aesthetically well filmed.
I am not surprised to find that this is the film maker's first full length feature film. I feel that she has a lot of potential to make good films if she avoids the temptation to be too clever...
I hope to watch the film again some time. Hopefully it will be better on the second viewing.