Thursday, February 21, 2008

Savior's Square: Grade B


Savior’s Square (2006)

Jowita Miondlikowska, Arkadiusz Janicze; Directors: Joanna Kos (also wrote), Krzysztof Krauze. (Polish, subtitled)

A young couple and their two young boys, in contemporary Poland visit their new home, a condo still under construction in a new development called Savior’s Square. When the man goes to talk to the foreman about some detail, he learns that all work on the development has stopped, the builder is bankrupt, the deposit paid (the whole price) vanished. The family is devastated, since they already sold their apartment to make the condo payment, so they have to move in with his mother, a humiliation and an extreme imposition for the mother. In the very close quarters of her apartment tempers flare often. The husband has to demand that the wife give up her Visa card; she cannot find work because of the child care problem. The mother nags. There is a meeting of all the defrauded condo buyers but they learn there is nothing they can do, no money to be recovered, nobody to sue.

This domestic tragedy is low key, slow moving, and actually a bit boring, until you catch on to the idea that it is not really about this family’s troubles at all. The family represents the state of Polish society since the end of communism, when party cronies hijacked the national wealth in bogus privatizations, leaving the ordinary people impoverished and bringing the economy to a stop. Sure they have political freedom now, but what good is that if you have to live with your mother and can’t afford food? The family’s children are consistently presented as burdens, liabilities. They are never shown as people with futures, because the truth is, they have no future, nor do the citizens of Poland. Maybe I read too much in, but I really started to enjoy the movie after I understood what it was about. As a bonus, you get to see a slice of ordinary life in contemporary Poland and to sample the language. Throw in good acting and thoughtful cinematography, and you have a strong movie that sneaks up on you.

No comments:

Post a Comment