12 December, 2008

Z odzysku (Retrieval) (2006)

Punchy pic

Polish debut director Slawomir Fabicki doesn't pull punches with his debut feature Z odzysku (Retrieval), about a young boxer struggling to do the right thing but finding himself being dragged ever deeper into the criminal mire. While the story takes a little time to find its rythmn, once it's ducking and diving, the result is a solid, adult and engrossing portrayal of the best that a man can do when faced with the worst.

Wojtek (Antoni Pawlicki) is a good kid from Silesa who swops his dangerous cement-pit work for a more comfortable job in security at a local disco, after the disco's boss Dariusz (Jacek Braciak), sees him box. Help is even provided to find a cushy apartment for him and his illegal Ukrainian immigrant lover Katja (Natalya Vdovina) and her son Andryi (Dimitri Melnichuk). When Dariusz takes Wojtek under his wing, he soon discovers that Dariusz also makes money as a loan shark, for which he is expected to do “security” as well, forcing the people who have not paid back in time to do so.

Fabicki, who co-wrote the screenplay with Denijal Hasanovic and Marek Pruchniewski, creates some strongly resonant scenes in the more general framework of their story of a decent man forced into criminal behaviour. Pawlicki does seem physically slight for a boxer, but he does capture the puppy-dog look that makes his character’s essential goodness utterly believable - and his character's transition from caring to ruthless is remarkable. In brief, the film emerges as something rather more than first meets the eye, even if the ending seems more than a touch abrupt.

Awards: Click here for details.

103 mins. In Polish and Russian.

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