19 October 2012

Shameless / Bez wstydu (Filip Marczewski, 2012, Poland)

When I read the desciption of this film in the CIFF catalog, I said to myself, What's a film festival without an Eastern European incest drama? I also kind of hoped it would have the gritty intensity of a film called Zero which I had seen a while back at an EU film festival at the Siskel Center. The film isn't that kind of intense postmodern experience I anticipated, but it's a relatively entertaining melodrama featuring some strong performances, particularly from the lead actress (Agnieszka Grochowska), and a compelling subplot about a gypsy girl (Anna Próchniak) trying to break out of the rigid gender role imposed upon her by her culture.

The film begins with the protagonist Tadek eluding the conductor on a train. We glimpse the gypsy family whose story is the main subplot. I'm not sure how old Tadek is supposed to be but my guess is that he's about 18, as is the gypsy girl he eventually befriends. (btw, I know it's not polite to use the word gypsy, but it's the word used in the film...) He's on the way to stay with his sister who shipped him off to his aunt's house after their parents died, except she doesn't seem to know he's coming. The sister is dating a sleazy politician who is mixed up with Neo-Nazis and so forth. Naturally, the brother and sister have some unholy history and possibly some taboo desires which the sister rejects. The gypsy girl seems to fall in love with him, but he's too busy pining after his sister to pay her much notice.

I'd be surprised if the film played even in arthouse theaters in the US, but if it became available on Netflix for streaming, I imagine I'd watch it again.

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