Luminous monochrome lensing, sparse note-by-note piano music and a general atmosphere of pious solemnity can't disguise fact that Polish drama plays like an overstretched short. First full feature by helmer Adam Guzinski tells of a writer taking his son to a city for an operation. Fests looking to stable Slavic fare may give it slots.

Luminous monochrome lensing, sparse note-by-note piano music and a general atmosphere of pious solemnity can’t disguise fact that Polish drama “The Boy on the Galloping Horse” plays like an overstretched short. First full feature by helmer Adam Guzinski, whose 16-minuter “Jacob” won a Cinefoundation prize at Cannes’ 1997 edition, tells of a writer taking his son to a city for an operation. Pace barely breaks into a trot, let alone a gallup, but fests looking to stable Slavic fare may give it programming slots.

Successful author Jerzy (Piotr Bajor) has moved to the country with his photographer wife Maria (Aleksandra Justa) and lively seven-year-old son Jasiek (Krzysztof Lis) to struggle with his writer’s block. Silences and soulful looks exchanged between Jerzy and Maria suggest not all is well between them. When they’re advised to take Jasiek to nearest city Gdansk for an unspecified operation, Jerzy goes with him alone, planning to give him a fun day out in case anything goes wrong. Every shot is admittedly artfully composed, but that doesn’t justify the soporific editing, or the trite, circle-squaring use of a montage repeated at both pic’s beginning and end.

The Boy on the Galloping Horse

Poland

Production

An Opus Film, Telewizja Polska S.A. production, in association with the Polish Film Institute. (International sales: Telewizja Polska, Warsaw.) Produced by Piotr Dzieciol, Lukasz Dzieciol. Directed, written by Adam Guzinski, based on a short story by Tariej Vesaas.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Jolanta Dylweska; editor, Cezary Kowalczuk, Guzinski, Jaroslaw Kaminski; production designer, Anna Wunderlich; costumes, Aneta Flis. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Out of Competition), May 28, 2006. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Piotr Bajor, Aleksandra Justa, Krzysztof Lis.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more