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The Debt

By taking full advantage of the cautionary socioeconomic moral inherent in the true story on which this cool, deliberate thriller is based, "The Debt" has contempo cultural resonance beyond its genre roots. Tale of two ambitious young Warsaw businessmen who become mixed up with a ruthless Russian mobster will appeal to fests looking for something less arty from the region, while theatrical and vid biz will be solid.

By taking full advantage of the cautionary socioeconomic moral inherent in the true story on which this cool, deliberate thriller is based, “The Debt” has contempo cultural resonance beyond its genre roots. Tale of two ambitious young Warsaw businessmen who become mixed up with a ruthless Russian mobster will appeal to fests looking for something less arty from the region, while theatrical and vid biz will be solid.

Following discovery of two headless corpses in the wintry Vistula River, story flashes back three months to tell of efforts by school chums Adam (Robert Gonera) and Stefan (Jacek Borcuch) to raise capital for an Italian scooter dealership. Smooth colleague Gerard (Andrzej Chyra) offers collateral for their bank loan, only to demand impossible commissions and interest, turning increasingly unforgiving and brutal when terms aren’t met. Skittish pair’s only hope is to speak in the one language Gerard understands: violence. Tech credits are clean and crisp, marred only by the unfortunate Westernizing of names — Steve, Babs and the like — in subtitles.

The Debt

(POLAND)

Production: A Zebra Film/Canal Plus Poland/ITI Cinema production. (International sales: Film Polski, Warsaw.) Produced by Juliusz Machulski. Co-producers, Jacek Moczydlowski, Jacek Bromski. Directed by Krzysztof Krauze. Screenplay, Krauze, Jerzy Morawski. Camera (color), Bartek Prokopowicz; editor, Krzysztof Szpetmanski; music, Michal Urbaniak; art director, Magdalena Dipont; costume designer, Elzbieta Radke; sound (Dolby Stereo), Wiestaw Znyk. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 18, 2000. Original Polish title: Dlug. (Polish dialogue.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Robert Gonera, Jacek Borcuch, Andrzej Chyra, Joanna Szurmiej, Cezary Kosinski, Agnieszka Warchulska, Joanna Kurowska, Slawomira Lozinska, Krzysztof Gordon.

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