Never Ever!

If Oprah were to extend her official stamp of approval from books to international cinema, "Never Ever!" might land on her essential viewing list. A contempo fairy tale encompassing youngish mid-age female anxieties and dreams, pic would appear to answer every gal and gal pal's wish for a film to see on a night out without the guys.

With:
With: Danuta Stenka, Joanna Brodzik, Jan Frycz, Artur Zmijewski, Marta Lipinska, Kryzysztof Kowalewski, Rafal Krolikowski, Joanna Jablczynska.

If Oprah were to extend her official stamp of approval from books to international cinema, “Never Ever!” might land on her essential viewing list. A contempo fairy tale encompassing youngish mid-age female anxieties and dreams, pic would appear to answer every gal and gal pal’s wish for a film to see on a night out without the guys. Runaway local 2004 B.O. hit with 1.6 million admissions(with an impressive fourth-place ranking among all releases in Poland) should transfer nicely across borders to upscale urban Euro markets.

Warsaw columnist Judyta (Danuta Stenka) doles out advice to her readers while her private life is in crisis. Her hubby Tomasz (Jan Frycz) wants a divorce. He has impregnated his younger lover and intends to live in the family home with his new heartthrob.

This leaves Judyta having to scramble for a place for her and rebellious teen daughter Tosia (Joanna Jablczynska) to live, while at the office she is being pressured by editors to add more sex bits to her column.

TV vet helmer Ryszard Zatorski and scripter Ilona Lepkowska could have titled their adaptation of Katarzyna Grochola’s book “You Go Girl!” since Judyta pulls herself up by her bootstraps and finds the will and the way — with constant hugs and pep talks from ultra-loyal friend Ula (Joanna Brodzik) — to build a lovely home in the country. She even decides to ignore the letters of an interested male reader and determines that she doesn’t need men in her life “never ever.”

There’s little doubt that Lepkowska and company have studied the films of Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers with a fine-toothed comb, given pic’s facile blend of formula and female concerns and conflicts. Thus, the moment that Judyta is certain of her independence, up pops Adam (Artur Zmijewski) during her housewarming party to throw the wrench of love into her life.

Unlike Hollywood’s recent class of unhinged and inchoate romantic comedy heroines, Judyta actually settles into a lengthy and sexy tryst with Adam. But, although complications from this lovely affair work from a comedy standpoint, they’re so ludicrous and crippling that pic never quite recovers.

The spirit of a gal getting her act together seems to bring out the best in Stenka as a thesp, and it’s her belief in this char-acter that helps lift pic out of several sticky moments.

From bored husband to smart-ass divorcee to ex eating humble pie, Frycz’ effective Tomasz goes through as many life changes as Judyta. Jablczynska happily finds some human touches beneath her teen character’s bratty facade.

Ultra-pro pacing and lensing produce a slick package that reps current trends in mainstream commercial Polish cinema.

Never Ever!

Poland

Production: An ITI Cinema release (in Poland) of an APF Film Institute/MTL Maxfilm presentation of an ITI Group Film Studio/TVN production. (International sales: ITI Group Film Studio, Warsaw.) Produced by Tadeusz Lampka, Ilona Lepkowska, Dariusz Gasiorowski, Marek Trojak. Directed by Ryszard Zatorski. Screenplay, Ilona Lepkowska, based on the book by Katarzyna Grochola.

Crew: Camera (color), Tomasz Dobrowolski; editor, Milenia Fiedler; music, Maciej Zielinski; production designer, Dorota Ignaczak; costume designers, Elzbieta Radke, Dorota Redzisz-Williams; sound (Dolby Digital), Marek Wronko; assistant directors, Elzbieta Osinka, Krsysztof Rogala. Reviewed on videocassette, Los Angeles, May 27, 2005. (In Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles.) Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Danuta Stenka, Joanna Brodzik, Jan Frycz, Artur Zmijewski, Marta Lipinska, Kryzysztof Kowalewski, Rafal Krolikowski, Joanna Jablczynska.

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