Monday, 15 October 2007

Random Reviews #1

NO END




Review:
Following the death of husband Antek (a legal eagle, played by Bardini), Ulla Zyro (Szapolowska) is approached by a young woman whose husband faces imprisonment for his role in a labour strike. Antek was one of the few lawyers prepared to handle politically sensitive cases, and Ulla honours his memory by agreeing to find a new lawyer who will continue the battle.Labrador (Barcis) – a brief approaching retirement – finally agrees to help, but a presence from beyond the grave appears to be telling Ulla that she’s made the wrong choice.No End marked the beginning of a new chapter for Kryzsztof Kieslowski, as the first project in what would be a long-standing partnership with scriptwriter Kryzsztof Piesewicz - himself an ex lawyer. Although his film provoked hostile reactions from both the Polish state and church, the long-suffering public showed active support for Kieslowski who used first-hand knowledge and experience to depict life under martial law. The result is a compelling film which, ultimately, fails to engage emotions to quite the same degree as his subsequent features. Themes of courage, loss and moral dilemna are now familiar features of a body of work which ended with the astonishing Three Colours:Red. Here, they form a somewhat uneasy marriage, relying on directorial flourishes to stop proceedings from sinking under the weight of a script that pulls in too many directions.Kieslowski would go on to enjoy a number of flirtations with supernatural imagery in several films – The Double Life Of Veronique, Three Colours:Blue/Red – subtle, understated occurrences that serve to remind us we are never truly alone and that our lives are controlled by dead people. Here, the visual presence of Antek figures several times, and seems overplayed; particularly compared to a couple of beautifully constructed scenes involving automobiles, and a red marker pen. On the other side of the camera, it’s Grazyna Zapolowski (excellent in Kieslowki’s A Short Film About Love) who really excels, anticipating Juliet Binoche’s grieving wife in Three Colours:Blue and running the whole gamut of human emotions en route to an ending that will haunt you for weeks after. Praise too, for Barcis, who delivers a fine character study of a man back in the political arena under great duress.Artificial Eye’s Region 2 DVD boasts a more than acceptable transfer of this film: picture quality may be a little on the soft side, but colours are strong with no distortion. Short of a major restoration, it’s hard to imagine this film looking much better than it does here. Extras are limited to a 5 minute Zapolowska interview – during which she states politics and art should not mix and admits she had problems regarding a sex scene that’s crucial to the story – and a 27 minute interview with DOP Jacek Petrycki who generally chats about Kieslowski’s short films; one of which (The Office) is included as an extra on this disc.

2 comments:

  1. Nice look at a wonderful film...Kieslowski has been on my mind a lot lately.

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  2. Thank you, Jeremy. His passing was certainly a great loss. I think his THREE COLOURS:red was possibly the greatest directorial swansong.

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