A simple, TV-financed comedy that will play better on the small screen, “The Convert” shows veteran Silesian director Kazimierz Kutz in a mellow mood and showcases another winning performance from actor Zbigniew Zamachowski, who was the sad-sack hero of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “White.”
Kutz returns to the fall of 1981, the year of Solidarity, for this wry farce in which Zamachowski plays a pro-government employee of a power plant. He feels alienated from his fellow workers, who all support the militant union movement led by Lech Walesa, partly because he comes from the countryside and lacks the sophistication of his mates.
When asked by his boss to infiltrate an illegal Solidarity rally and check on who’s attending, he willingly agrees. But once there, the simple guy gets caught up in the emotion of the occasion, especially when the unionists start to sing patriotic songs; he joins in the singing and has to flee when the police break up the rally. An extended, hilarious chase across the city ensues.
Next day, the hapless Tomasz is arrested because he was photographed at the rally. He refuses to speak and finds himself a victim of the hard-line system he’d always supported.
The story Kutz is telling here is almost as simple as his protagonist, but the broad humor of the piece carries it along, and the writer/director also manages to capture, via minutely observed details, something of the tensions and hopes of this crucial period of recent Polish history.
Zamachowski gives a powerful performance as the beleaguered Tomasz, and the supporting cast members are all fine, especially Marek Kondrat as the bored police officer who interrogates the hapless hero. Production credits are modest but adequate.