Dir: Marcin Wrona. Poland. 2010. 86mins
An impressively made Polish crime drama, The Christening’s modest title might hint at rather gentle material, but in fact the christening itself mainly acts as a countdown for a series of violent interludes as a brutal gang seek to take revenge on a man who snitched to the police about them.
Natalia Rybicka is not given an awful lot to do, but she makes a striking impression and her character develops subtly as the film draws on.
But Marcin Wrona’s film’s is extremely well performed and exceptionally tense, and keeps you gripped right up its expected brutal climax. It has the tough gangland crime qualities that might intrigue some buyers, and while the violence might put off some, it is a tightly made drama.
Soldier Janek (Tomasz Schuhardt) returns from a tour of duty and seeks out his best friend Michal (Wojciech Zielinski), but is bemused to find him living in a plush Warsaw flat with beautiful wife Magda (Natalia Rybicka) and a small baby.
The two were minor criminals as younger men, but Mikal claims to have gone legit, and talks enthusiastically about his company that fits expensive windows into apartment blocks. It turns out, though, that Mikal is paying off vast sums each to a crime gang…he had snitched on them to police, and they want revenge.
With his money running out Mikal knows his days are numbered, so convinces Janek to be godfather…and also asks him to look after Magda and the baby should anything happen to him. Meanwhile, Janek goes to work for the gang (and is involved in a particularly nasty torture scene) as he tries to convince them to leave Mikal alone.
The lead threesome work well together. Tomasz Schuhardt’s Janek has an edgy high-pitched laugh and is never quite as comfortable with the ensuing violence as his friend Mikal. Given this is largely a blokey film about gangs and violence, Natalia Rybicka is not given an awful lot to do, but she makes a striking impression and her character develops subtly as the film draws on.
Production companies: Odeon Film Studio, Polish Film Institute
International sales: M-Appeal, www.m-appeal.com
Producers: Leszek Rybarczyk, Marek Rudnicki
Screenplay: Grzegorz Jankowski, Grazyna Trela, Dariusz Glazer
Cinematography: Pawel Fils
Editor: Piotr Kmiecik
Music: Marcin Macuk
Main cast: Tomasz Schuhardt, Wojciech Zielinski, Natalia Rybicka, Adam Woronowicz, Michal Koterski