The vivisection of the Polish nation, according to Wojtek Smarzowski, hurts more than the vodka pouring on the screen, and the emotional hangover after the screening will not be alleviated by any potion that puts you on your feet. Being a guest at the title party, we get a heavy blow on the head again and again, realizing after each blow that the wedding is in fact a funeral, during which the director mourns contemporary Poland and bends over its shameful past. The latest work of the creator “Clergy” i “Volhynia” It is striking by illustrating the scale of human evil, but at the same time it chokes on the excess of threads and bends under the heavy symbolism.
Before the premiere of the new “Wesele”, it would be necessary to show unimaginable naivety to treat the trailer of Wojtek Smarzowski’s latest work as an announcement of casual entertainment in rhythms Discopoly bangs and in the company of drunk, mustachioed uncles. Perhaps the most uncompromising director in Poland, between the stanzas of wedding chants, he installed a powerful charge, the fragments of which hit practically every political and philosophical sphere of life in our country. So if you are ready to play in the fumes of satire coarse, then the invitations to the “Wedding” should not even be taken out of the envelope.
The new “Wesele”: neither continuation, nor remake, nor what we think
According to Smarzowski’s own declarations, his latest film is by no means a supplement to the 2004 work. Stylistically, it is a completely different story that shares common elements with the feature-length debut the director can of course be found. Wedding guests are again a more or less representative sample of Polish society, and the event, falling into ruin and chaos, reflects everything that is built on lies, desire, greed and hatred in our country. Host of the celebration (Robert Więckiewicz), like Marian Dziędziel from years ago, trying to marry his daughter and patch up larger and larger holes in the budget, the groom is again more interested in the bridesmaids and the sports car donated by his father-in-law, and the greedy priest counts even thicker bundles of banknotes under the table.
See also: Tricity accents in the new “Wesele”
This time, however, the wedding brawl is for Smarzowski only a pretext for another, after “Róża” and “Volhynia”, insight into the painful history of Poland. The course of the title ceremony brings back fragmentary memories of the tragic events from several dozen years ago in a senior of the family suffering from dementia. Antoni Wilk (for the last time on the screen he is well known to the Tricity audience Ryszard Ronczewski) recalls his former love for a Jewish girl at a time when any deeper feelings were pacified by fire and lead. In the old man’s scarred mind, reality begins to intertwine with the past more and more. War characters and events appear in the present and vice versa.
The new “Wesele” is neither a continuation of the 2004 film of the same title, nor its new version. Smarzowski simply used the formula he had already tested, although this time it does not seem to be adequate to the topics discussed, which, by the way, are much too much.
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All our fears in the “Smarzola” boiler
Sometimes this as intriguing as it is risky procedure works perfectly well, for example in the church scene, when the “today’s” priest denounces the “rainbow plague”, and the one from years ago chastises “spreading Jewry” from the pulpit. However, much more often, especially in the second half of the film, this interchangeability of plots and temporal planes disturbs the fluidity of both stories and leaves many stories unfinished. One of the biggest problems of “Wesele” is the polyphony based on stereotypes and the quite insistent search for analogies in places. A point pogroms against the Jewish community by Poles, which Smarzowski juxtaposes – sometimes unceremoniously and quite chaotically – with today’s campaigns against the LGBT milieu, hostility towards Ukrainians or racial dislike. The allegories are all too readable, but at the same time very overbearing and moralizing.
Smarzowski does not intend to discuss with the viewer in the new “Wesele” using film language. He presents Poland with his original diagnosis, which probably many people will sign up to. The problem, however, is that on the screen such a storm of national vices, unsettled sins and very suggestive warnings dilutes in the thicket of threads. The director throws anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia, criticism of the church and political classes, human pettiness, jealousy and hatred, sexism, alcoholism, economic emigration, veganism and animal slaughter, human trafficking, football fans, and even a pandemic into one cauldron. Everything is seething, gurgling and often it just spills out to the side, leaving a mess that was completely alien to Smarzowski’s cinema.
In “Wesele” we deal with two stories. One concerns modern times and focuses on the title ceremony in one of the villages of Podlasie. The second one goes back to the Second World War and deals with the murders of Jews by Poles.
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Images to look away from
The language he uses to tell shocking moments is also just as uncompromising as the director. Of course, the creator of “The House of Evil” has already got us used to it many times, but in “The Wedding” he decides to use a very transparent literalism. The scenes of burning people alive in the barn or tidying up their charred corpses afterwards stuck them in the chair to such an extent that we are left with prints after the screening. The power of the painting is overwhelming, but very often it is the only tool that Smarzowski uses. “Wesele” lacks a psychological bite into the form and a more detailed analysis of historical facts, as was the case for example in “Wołyń”.
There are also scenes that are already very dangerous are balancing on the verge of good taste. This is especially true of the one that looks as if Patryk Vega sneaked into the editing room and pasted one of his illustrated “anecdotes” into the film. I would lie that it affects the overall assessment, but it does not bring Smarzowski pride. The skillful hand of the cinematographer, Piotr Sobociński, makes up for a lot here, although his shots are often wasted by absurdly fast editing, which instead of making the story dynamic, introduces a lot of question marks in the context of the plot. The actors are also not helped, because actually only Robert Więckiewicz and Mateusz Więcławek (big applause!) Have “something to play”. Agata Turkot is doing great, the class was shown by the regrettable Ryszard Ronczewski.
In terms of acting, Robert Więckiewicz has the most to play here, who fulfills his duties flawlessly, but also without any clear shine. The young part of the cast looks much better: Mateusz Więcławek and Agata Turkot. Perfect, though unfortunately for the last time on the screen, Ryszard Ronczewski is watched.
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Wolves are on the prowl in the slaughterhouse
The father of the bride, Rysiek Wilk, played by Robert Więckiewicz, is a local (somewhat financially declining) oligarch who has earned his wealth and position in a pig slaughterhouse. A visit to his plant would probably not be the most pleasant for many of our senses. It is similar with “Wesel”. It is a film slaughterhouse in which Smarzowski brutally nobles the Polish mentality, drains the sins of the past from it and serves viewers a raw product that everyone will prepare in their own way. Read: according to your own beliefs and worldview. It is an incredibly strong film message, but very fragile in its form.
Contrary to the director’s fears, this film will not be forbidden by anyone in Poland. Many (including the undersigned) will think that it should have been done better – more subtly, with moderation, order and respect for the viewer. Most should, however, watch it. Certainly no one will want to remember him. Memory, like love, is a necessary element in order not to recall human evil, hatred and prejudices. So that – referring to the names of the main characters – a man would not be a Wolf to a man. I am afraid that this moral is about to disappear in the maze of controversies and attacks on the director. Just as I’m afraid it will not go to those to whom it is addressed. May I be wrong.