"Savior's Square": Marriage Polish Style By Gorazd Trušnovec

in 42nd Karlovy Vary Film Festival

by Gorazd Trušnovec

Bartek, a hard working husband, sells his flat, and before his new home is completed, temporarily moves his family in with his mother. He isn’t aware that the whole building enterprise is a scam and that they will soon depend on his mother’s income and good will. Bartek and his wife Beata, who can’t find appropriate jobs, slowly grow apart due to his mother’s constant interferrence and their different interests and needs, which slowly leads to irresponsible decisions with disastrous results.

The Polish contender in the main programme of the Karlovy Vary film festival, Savior’s Square (Plac Zbawiciela, directed by Krzysztof Krauze and Joanna Kos-Krauze, 2006) is an intelligent and sensitive study of family relationships and responsibilities. It is mainly set in interiors, which adds to the feeling of claustrophobia and entrapment of middle class characters with ordinary ambitions. It offers at the same time not only an intimate insight into the family dynamics gone wrong, but is also quite an accurate portrait of injustice, financial machinations and manipulations in numerous post-totalitarian states, which without a doubt contributed to a number of intimate tragedies.

Nevertheless, one of the central motives of the film is the recurring pattern of behavior: the character of the mother, who was clearly a victim of domestic violence, passes on the disturbing behaviour to her son. The film is a uncompromising study of quiet aggression within four walls, small everyday humiliations (both in the society in general and within the family) and their accumulation, of invisible wounds and small steps which can lead to the tragedy. Through this study, it also offers complex issues of guilt, selfishness, compassion and redemption without offering easy answers or ever losing its roots in everyday reality.

The drama is taken from a real life and the authors, Krzysztof Krauze and Joanna Kos-Krauze, who reportedly worked on the script together with the three leading actors for several months, borrowing the method from Mike Leigh and gaining similarly excellent results in the acting department. Moreover, the appropriate use of cinematography and music both transcend the basic screenwriting material, which could have resulted in a straight TV drama, to a small but very powerful and memorable film, which up to its final resolution, a bit like a deus-ex-machina, never releases its grip on the viewer.