Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak, Krzysztof Stroinski, Ewa Telega, Miroslawa Marcheluk, Teresa Marczewska, / Fiction / Polish
Suspicion casts a dark shadow and history is never far away.
Everything is thrown into doubt for ageing couple Joanna (Jadwiga Jankowska- Cie?lak) and Jan (Krzysztof Stroi?ski), when a revealing videotape, which casts a dark shadow over Jan’s past, is anonymously delivered to their 40th wedding anniversary celebration, causing irreparable damage to their relationship. As Joanna submits to her increasingly dark and depressive thoughts, obsessing constantly over the contents of the tape, Jan tries in vain to permeate the impenetrable wall of suspicion growing between them. Ignoring her husband’s pleas of innocence, Joanna hides herself away, forging a cold distance that eventually threatens to consume them both. In a story synonymous with Poland's haunted relationship with its recent history, writer/director Michal Rosa – returning to the same themes explored in his critically acclaimed 2006 feature What the Sun Has Seen – observes the damaging impact of past political intrigue on the lives of ordinary Polish people today. Exploring this moral dilemma, common in a country undergoing an accelerated period of political change, Scratch displays Rosa’s keen understanding of how human frailty can be easily manipulated by malevolent political forces. His non-judgemental, tactful approach to the issue is refreshingly honest, and highlights his genuine understanding of the complex issues involved. Award-winning documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Marcin Koszalka embraces the themes perfectly, providing intimacy and depth throughout, and a haunting score by veteran composer Stanislaw Radwan further enhances the poignant tone. Playing husband and wife for Rosa for the second time after What the Sun Has Seen, the two leads are exceptional in the central roles. Jankowska-Cie?lak gives a wonderfully understated performance, subtly accentuating Joanna’s tightly repressed feelings, whilst allowing her a few brief moments of wry humour. Also perfectly cast is Stroi?ski, impressively exploring the depths of his character as the contemplative, brow-beaten Jan slowly loses control. Rosa’s close eye for detail and thoughtful pacing gives his actors significant focus, allowing them to completely inhabit their troubled characters’ slowly dissolving relationship. The result is an extraordinary, compelling portrait of a once loving couple suddenly and violently wrenched apart by uncertainty, doubt and mistrust.
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