Dir/scr: Grzegorz Jaroszuk. Poland. 2014. 72mins
After making a splash on the festival with his 30 minute short film Frozen Stories, the feature debut from Lodz Film School graduate Grzegorz Jaroszuk has been eagerly awaited by many. Receiving its World Premiere in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition, Kebab & Horoscope keeps the slow pace and deadpan humour that made Jaroszuk’s short so popular.
Kebab & Horoscope should deservedly grab the attention of arthouse distributors looking for leftfield black comedies with a hint of genuine pathos.
As he quits his job, ‘Kebab’ (Bartlomiej Topa) meets the man who writes the horoscopes in The Secret World Of Animals magazine – the very horoscopes that made him quit his job in the first place. He joins forces with the also redundant ‘Horoscope’ (Piotr Zurawski) as the pair re-invent themselves as marketing executives for a carpet store.
With employees including a dour boss, slightly deranged cashier and a shop girl whose mother insists on faking a suicide to win back an old love, the stage is set for the gang of misfits to help bring the store back to prominence. But the path of marketing never ran smoothly.
Owing more than a nod to the likes Aki Kaurismäki and Roy Andersson - influences that Jaroszuk readily admits to – with plenty of static shots and a staccato approach to a narrative, this is a film in which not much happens but the devil is in the details.
Amongst the quiet air of the surreal there are bursts of genuine laugh out loud humour (such as someone’s amazing ability to sell a carpet under any circumstance or a discussion about fish named after The Beatles). But much of the enjoyment in the film comes from the atmosphere that Jaroszuk creates, utterly recognisable but also one step removed from reality.
The absurdist situations are also deftly played out thanks to strong performances especially from Justyna Wasilewska whose doe-eyed and spaced out shop girl hides a spirit of quiet confidence and intelligence.
With already something of a modest buzz around the film at Karlovy Vary, Kebab & Horoscope should deservedly grab the attention of arthouse distributors looking for leftfield black comedies with a hint of genuine pathos.
Production Company: MD4
International sales: New Europe Film Sales, www.neweuropefilmsales.com
Producer: Agnieszka Kurzudlo
Cinematography: John Magnus Borge
Editor: Aleksandra Gowin
Music: Wojciech Mazolewski
Main cast: Bartlomiej Topa, Piotr Zurawski, Tomek Schuchardt, Justyna Wasilewska, Barbara Kurzaj, Andrzej Zielinsk, Dorota Kolak, Janusz Michalowski