Ill-fated nuptials where everything goes wrong offer an opportunity for black comedy. But mucky Polish effort "The Wedding," in which everyone behaves appallingly, takes the mini genre to a new level of misanthropy. Pic should have happy honeymoon domestically.

Ill-fated nuptials where everything goes wrong offer an opportunity for black comedy. But mucky Polish effort “The Wedding,” in which everyone behaves appallingly, takes the mini genre to a new level of misanthropy. Popvid director Wojtek Smarzowski’s sophomore follow-up to “Malzowina” is likely to divide auds into those who will groove to its stylized cynicism versus those appalled by same. Pic should have happy honeymoon domestically, but the young demographic abroad that would most likely toast pic’s health is the one least likely to shell out for a subtitled movie.

At the grand provincial wedding of Kaska (Tamara Arciuch, whose character is called “Kate” in English subtitles) and Janusz (Bartlomiej Topa), Kaska’s rich farmer father Wieslaw Wojnar (Marian Dziedziel) presents the happy couple with a new Audi TT as a wedding gift. Hitch is he’s procured the wheels through a local gangster who in return wants the deeds to some land that belongs to Wojnar’s uncooperative and constipated father-in-law, who won’t come out of the toilet stall during the reception.

Wojnar is suffering from serious cash flow problems, and everyone from the band to the local cops wants their pay or a bribe, necessitating Wojnar making constant trips back to his greenhouse to retrieve more zlotys. As the night wears on and the cheap vodka flows, the party gets violent, starting with Kaska getting some local thugs to beat up the hired cameraman (Maciej Stuhr).

Blood and excrement are featured prominently throughout, the latter flowing nauseatingly out of a blocked toilet at one point, just when half the party needs to run to the john because the banquet’s main course was spoiled. Having been too busy to eat, Wojnar takes some time off to hump a wedding guest in a storeroom, an act his wife Eluska (familiar face Iwona Bielska) takes serious exception to when she catches him. The gross-out humor and bawdiness, however, is more grotesque than giggle-inducing.

Apart from comely soap actress Arciuch as Kaska, most of the cast looked like they stepped straight out of a Brueghel painting. Their potato-fed complexions appear all the more jaundiced in the harsh, increasingly lurid lighting as the night goes on. No one is stretched very far as a thesp here, but as an ensemble their rendition of drunken hysteria is rivaled only by the casts of the last few Emir Kusturica pics.

Writer-helmer Smarzowski demonstrates a sharp sense of pace and a gaminess for pushing the bad-taste envelope that may yet take him far. Pic was mostly shot on 35mm film but features DV clips filmed by the story’s cameraman. Also, film should on no account be confused with entirely different 1973 Polish movie of the same name directed by Andrzej Wajda.

The Wedding

Poland

Production

A SPI Intl. Poland presentation of a Grupa Filmowa, Televizja Polska S.A., Film It, Agencja Produckcji Filmowej, Wytwornia Filmow, Non Stop Film Service production. (International sales: SPI, Warsaw.) Produced by Anna Iwaszkiewicz, Dariusz Pietrykowski, Bartlomiej Topa. Directed, written by Wojtek Smarzowski.

Crew

Camera (color, 35mm/DV), Andrzej Szulkowski; editor, Pawel Laskowski; music, Ryszard Tymon Tymanski; art director, Barbara Ostapowicz; costume designer, Magdalena Maciejewska; sound (Dolby Digital), Jacek Hamela. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 12, 2004. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Marian Dziedziel, Iwona Bielska, Tamara Arciuch, Maciej Stuhr, Bartlomiej Topa, Pawel Wilczak, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Jerzy Rogalski, Elzbieta Jarosik, Lech Dyblik, Tomasz Sapryk.
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