Review: ‘The Crows’

Polish helmer Dorota Kedzierzawska, whose gentle hormone opera "Devils, Devils," was noted at Cannes' 1991 Critics' Week, returns in similar vein with "The Crows," a neatly observed mood piece about a prepubescent tyke's day on the lam. Slim but confident pic is ideally suited in length and scale for small-screen playoff after fest dates.

Polish helmer Dorota Kedzierzawska, whose gentle hormone opera “Devils, Devils,” was noted at Cannes’ 1991 Critics’ Week, returns in similar vein with “The Crows,” a neatly observed mood piece about a prepubescent tyke’s day on the lam. Slim but confident pic is ideally suited in length and scale for small-screen playoff after fest dates.

Main character, who’s never named, is a loner and a dreamer, unpopular at school, unfazed by boys’ sexual taunts and left to her own resources by a young mother who’s always out at work. One day, she meets a girl who’s scarcely out of diapers, and the pair spend the day wandering around town and romping by the river Vistula.

The girl tells the younger kid that she’s her mom and, in a way, she mothers her throughout their odyssey. Ending, in which she delivers the kid back to her real parents and falls asleep on the floor of her own apartment, is as simple and ingenuous as the rest of the pic.

With only an hourlong running time, there’s rarely a feeling of wispy material being stretched too far. A characterful performance by Karolina Ostrozna as the feisty loner, stylish photography that makes play with muted colors and dark interiors, a track rich with the sounds of nature, birds, tolling bells, and a simple, childlike score mixing piano and soprano sax — Kedzierzawska juggles all these elements with discreet skill.

The Crows

Polish

Production

An Oko Film Studio/Polish Television production, in association with Film Production Agency, Animex Export-Import. Directed, written by Dorota Kedzierzawska.

Crew

Camera (color), Arthur Reinhart; editor, Kedzierzawska, Reinhart; music, Wlodek Pawlik; art direction, Magdalena Kujszczyk; costume design, Magda Biedrzycka; sound, Barbara Domaradzka; assistant director, Malgorzata Scislowicz. Reviewed on Oko Film Studio vidcassette, London, March 25, 1994. (In Boston Intl. Festival of Women's Cinema, Cannes Film Festival -- Directors Fortnight.) Running time: 66 MIN.

With

Karolina Ostrozna, Kasia Szczepanik, Malgorzata Hajewska, Anna Prucnal, Ewa Bukowska, Krzysztof Grabarczyk.
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