Review: ‘Hope’

An idealistic young man toys with a powerful art thief in thoughtful morality tale "Hope."

An idealistic young man toys with a powerful art thief in thoughtful morality tale “Hope.” Latest such exercise from the pen of long-time Krzysztof Kieslowski collaborator Krzysztof Piesiewicz, item also reps an impressively disciplined jump to features by prolific documaker Stanislaw Mucha, whose gonzo meditations on the new Europe, including “Absolut Warhola” and “The Center,” give little inkling of the rigor here required. Too insular and fragmented to rank at the forefront of the scripters’ work, pic can nevertheless anticipate fest attention, scattered theatrical buys and desired homevid.

Using a vidcamera borrowed from g.f. Clare (Kamilla Baar), curly haired loner Francis (Rafal Fundalej) records prominent art dealer Benedict (Wojciech Pszoniak) supervising the nocturnal removal of a prized Italian panel from the church in which a boy works alongside his organist father (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), a former orchestra conductor.

To Benedict’s suspicious surprise, Francis, quite pleased with himself at catching the thief, seems to want nothing except the return of the painting — well, that and replacement of his vintage sedan, which Benedict has blown up as a warning.

Before long, bumbling cop Sopel (Zbigniew Zamachowski, from Kieslowski’s “White”) is on the case, though there are surprises along the way.

There’s an inexorable, if elusive, human logic in the best of Piesiewicz’ scripts. There are flashes of that here, but the emphasis seems to be more on the random and unknowable. Pic toys with the on-again, off-again relationship between Clare and Francis, develops an underworld angle in fits and starts, and even links the subject of the painting, an angel, to skydiving and Francis’ own curly locks.

More satisfying are the straight-faced comic undercurrents, most evident in the day-to-day frustrations inherent in Sopel’s work and a curious subplot involving the stone-faced skydiving instructor (Jerzy Trela).

Newcomer Fundalej is poised beyond his years, while vets Pszoniak and Zamachowski are fine.

Tech package is seductively glossy, led by the original score and album tracks by composer Max Richter.

Per Mucha, Piesiewicz presented the script to him at a pizzeria in Karlovy Vary in 2002 after seeing Mucha’s “Absolut Warhola” at the fest; press kit claims the pic is part of a new triptych to also cover faith and love.

Polish-born vet cutter Peter Przygodda is credited as “supervising editor.” Among the secondary characters given provocative bits of individual business is Zbigniew Domagalski as a suspicious priest.

Hope

Germany-Poland

Production

A Pandora Film (Germany), Kaleidoscope (Poland) production, in association with TVP, Canal Plus, WDR, HR, ZDF. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Reinhard Brundig, Raimond Goebel, Zbigniew Domagalski. Directed by Stanislaw Mucha. Screenplay, Krzysztof Piesiewicz.

Crew

Camera (color), Krzysztof Ptak; editor, Jacek Tarasiuk; music, Max Richer; art director, Anna Wunderlich; sound (Dolby Digital), Michal Dominowski. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), July 2, 2007. (Also in Moscow Film Festival.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Rafal Fundalej, Kamilla Baar, Wojciech Pszoniak, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Grzegorz Artman, Jerzy Trela, Jan Frycz, Dominika Ostalowska, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz.
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