6 August 2010 | brixtonbathtub
Well-paced intriguing drama/thriller with some noir humour set in 50's Warsaw
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.