Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Review: The Pianist

I can't believe I haven't seen…

The Pianist Poster

The Pianist (2002)
Cert: 15 / 148 mins / Dir. Roman Polanski / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

So how some it's 2015, I love the work of Adrien Brody, yet I've never seen what could well be the greatest performance of his career?

Roman Polanski's two-and-a-half-hour story of pianist Wladek Szpilman's survival under the Nazi persecution of the Jewish communities of Poland is unremittingly grim stuff, but never overplays its hand or becomes mawkish. Taking place over the course of the Second World War and told entirely from Szpilman's point-of-view, the film builds gradually but holds nothing back, with even the film's occasional moments of humour and hope overshadowed by the audiences expectation of everything going from bad to worse. Based on true events, it's not a spoiler to say that the film does have an uplifting ending, but it comes at the end of an incredibly gruelling journey.

But I'd be lying if I said I thought that The Pianist was a perfect film; Polanski doesn't seem to be able to direct people being shot at point blank range (and in a war film - this war film in particular - the plot relies heavily on this), although his longer-range battles are beautifully shot, often with a single unblinking camera used to represent Wladek watching the action unfold from a distance. There's also a very curious mix of accents on show, with many of the performers adopting stylised - yet wildly different - affectations to demonstrate that they're Polish. It's okay, Roman, I know the characters wouldn't have been speaking to each other in English, so we really don't have to pretend.

But that's probably being needlessly picky over a very engaging film, and one which demands 150 minutes of your time.

And as inappropriate as this might sound, I reckon The Pianist would make a fantastic, if lengthy, double-bill alongside Inglourious Basterds (with The Pianist running first, obviously).

Have you really never seen this before?
Really, never.

So are you glad you've finally have?
Really, yes.

And would you recommend it, now?
I would, but it's a long, hard journey, and won't be for for everyone.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't. It's not really that sort of film. Yet at the same time, there are scenes where it could have been used seamlessly.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Brody starred in 2005's The Jacket with Keira 'Sabé' Knightly.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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