Polski Film - from the Czech Republic
by Laurence Boyce
05/07/2012 - If the fact that Polski film [trailer] is basically a Czech Film is confusing (though, to be fair, it is co-produced with Poland), it’s nothing compared with its story. After winning numerous awards on the festival circuit for his brilliantly realised film Protektor, director Marek Najbrt has gathered four famous Czech actors - Marek Daniel, Pavel Liska, Tomás Matonoha and Josef Polásek – and given them seemingly the easiest roles of their lives. They get to play themselves.
The film sees the former schoolmates of JAMU (the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) deciding to realise their dream and make a film together. With funding from a Polish producer, they head to Krakow. But with so many obstacles in their way – including Catholicism, alter-egos and speech impediments – things will not go as smoothly as they had hoped.
The film constantly plays with the notion of reality, with the actors playing versions of themselves while also commenting on their roles. Thus, Polásek has an on-screen wife and later introduces us to his real wife, who comments on the fact that his on-screen wife would never be the kind of person he goes for.Similarly, well known actress Jana Plodková has a moment when she laments that she has to play the production assistant instead of herself. This self-reflexivity is fun and – surprisingly – never feels like it’s becoming overplayed, partly thanks to the fact that the cast throw themselves into proceedings with gusto (especially Marek Daniel, who plays himself and his ‘evil’ alter ego with a manic glee). And, while the film is mostly whimsical and amusing, there are a few serious points here to be made about the nature of acting and notions of the public and the personal.
Suffice to say that the film will have more resonance for those from the Czech Republic, as much of the film is predicated on archetypes represented by its leads, and – to a lesser extent – those from Poland who will enjoy the barbs aimed at the differences between the two cultures. While it would be probably be lost on most general audiences, making distribution far outside its home territory unlikely, there’s enough to enjoy here that a festival life should be assured thanks to its witty and sometimes perceptive take on cinema and acting.