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HOPE
2007


March 9, 2008
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival 18
Germany / Poland
Polish
101 Minutes
Crime / Drama / Mystery
Stanislaw Mucha

This one was highly anticipated as my last film of the festival. Movie Number 22. And I was disappointed. The story revolves around a 20ish Polish man who catches a well-connected politician steal a painting from the church his father plays music in. This kid, sets about getting the painting back using cocky methods, surveillance cameras, and confusing phone calls. "Call me at this number in exactly 15 minutes." The boy's older brother is in a prison mental ward after killing two men. Their father is still saddened by the loss of their mother in an accident which opens the film.

Here's the good: the kid is excellent, the script is by Kieslowski's partner in crime, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, and has some of the same nice shots and long takes. The love interest is cute and nice, but we're not really sure what their relationship is. We don't see them as a long-term couple, and she clearly adores him more than he likes her. We don't have any backstory on who or why the brother killed two men. And we don't know how the boy knew that the politician would turn out to be a thief.

I'm all for not having everything answered. In fact, that is typically the best kind of film. The problem with most Hollywood stuff is that they assume the audience is full of half-wits. But this one didn't explain anything. Nothing at all. And while I enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery, it turns out that there was nothing to figure out. We end up exactly where we started in terms of motivation. Why characters do what they do onscreen. The boy has a room with a laptop and hundreds of post-its on the wall but we never see what they say or what they tell him or how they help his caper.

It's as if there's no there there. I watched to see if the kid was as smart as he thought he was and he was and I don't know if I should care. There's a chance I missed whatever this film was trying to say, but it seemed to be convoluted for the sake of "depth." Not to make a more compelling story.

And an almost inexcusable scene involved young lovers succoming to their passions on, under, and behind a bunch of parachutes. Just like that cinema classic, PEARL HARBOR.

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