If you live in Poland, and you’re not somewhere in a remote village without a TV or the internet (like Colin), you can’t have missed the huge marketing campaign for the new movie “Kochaj i tańcz”. The billboards, the TV ads, the trams and buses, the posters on the Warsaw underground, trailers on street screens etc. TVN, one of the largest Polish media corporations has outdone itself to promote its newest creation.
The film, as the title suggests, is a mix of romantic (or rather melodramatic) comedy with dance. The dance part inspired by the recent wave of – very popular – television dance shows such as “Strictly Come Dancing” (featuring stars performing ballroom), and “So You Think You Can Dance” devoted to contemporary forms of dance.
Fast-paced trailers take viewers by surprise and promise some good entertainment. However, mixed (if not mostly negative) reviews make the viewer conscious of what to expect.
I expected it to be another episode in a wave of films (like “Nigdy w życiu”, “Lejdis”) that recreate the manner and style of Polish tv soap operas. Superficial, and distorting the Polish reality making it more fairytale than it usually is.
Bruce Parramore, the director, was granted a lot of trust with such a huge project. He is well known for directing commercials and music videos. This is his debut with film, where he transferred his method of working with storyboards. And as some members of the crew commented astonished, the whole script, scene by scene, was drawn before first shot was made.
There seems to be a good balance between the time devoted to dance, and to the storyline. The plot develops naturally. It is not very complicated – but this is not something such a film needs. It is simple but well written and natural. There are two protagonists in love, and there are some obstacles in their way. The sub-plot involves the older generation and their reconciliation. The world here is very simplified and stereotyped. There are clear distinctions between good and bad, the interesting and the boring. The film doesn’t go beyond its genre, doesn’t discover new grounds. Don’t expect this film to make you think. But it does entertain, and it will make you hum and shake your feet as you sit.
The music (mainly by Polish band Afromental) surprises with how well it fits certain scenes. Together with some dance, great set design, professional camera shots – the film does not fail to impress. In terms of quality it could be compared to “Love Actually” only more up-beat.
I was particularly positively surprised with the acting, about which several film critics have complained. Mateusz Damięcki and Izabela Miko – playing the leading characters – are natural in their roles. Mrs Miko, who is a stunningly beautiful and successful Polish actress in Hollywood, makes a great debut in a Polish production, while her partner Mr Damięcki surprises with his toned body and impressive dancing. Sometimes, however, they are overshadowed by the performances of the supporting characters: especially Katarzyna Herman, who plays a haughty (but secretly good-natured) partner of an acclaimed choreographer. It is also worth mentioning the performance of Katarzyna Figura (the Mother), Jacek Koman (choreographer; well known actor in Australia where he has lived since 1982) and Anna Bosak (over-ambitious dancer).
Several dance scenes in the film represent different styles. A few group performances feature the popular dancers already known to the Polish viewers from televison.
To sum up: This film is not art, it is a product. As such it is well prepared and served. It is few steps ahead of the “Nigdy w życiu” likes. I would say it is the best film of its genre made in Poland (or even Europe) in the noughties. It did very well at the box office attracting nearly 400,000 viewers in its first weekend. It is also a hint to the direction of Polish cinema. Unlike other Central-European schools (like the Czech) which seem to prefer intimate and quirky films Polish cinema seems to be going big, bold and mainstream.