Review: ‘Strawberry Wine’

A lonely cop finds friendship, sex, crime, supernatural goings-on and redemption in a run-down southern Polish town in "Strawberry Wine."

A lonely cop finds friendship, sex, crime, supernatural goings-on and redemption in a run-down southern Polish town in “Strawberry Wine.” Sophomore directing gig by Dariusz Jablonski (docu “Fotoamator”) has moments of charm but moves at a molasses-like pace, while the climax, sticky with Catholic sentimentality, cloys like the titular beverage itself. Limited fest play is possible, but “Wine” is more likely to be served locally.

With some sorrowful memories for baggage, policeman Andrzej (Czech thesp Jiri Machacek, stolid) arrives in the sleepy burg of Zlobiska to patrol the local beat on a bicycle. Billeted with Lewandowski (Lech Lotocki), one of the town’s many middle-aged, mildly amusing drunks, he soon finds distraction with sultry temptress Lubica (Slovak siren Zuzana Fialova). Things heat up further when jealous husband Kosciejny (the redoubtable Marian Dziedziel, from “The Wedding”) slays a rival and turns himself in. Murder proves a popular local pursuit as another major character gets bumped off, but the plot still feels bitty, hinting at the script’s short-story origins. Still, the whole film looks good, thanks to Tomasz Michalowski’s lensing, which nicely evokes the changing seasons.

Strawberry Wine

Poland

Production

An Apple Film production, in association with Telewizja Polska, Canal Plus Poland, Trigon Prod. Produced by Dariusz Jablonski, Violetta Kaminska, Izabela Wojcik. Executive producer, Andrzej Stasiuk. Co-producer, Patrik Pass. Directed by Dariusz Jablonski. Screenplay, Andrzej Stasiuk, Jablonski, based on stories by Stasiuk.

Crew

Camera (color), Tomasz Michalowski; editor, Krzysztof Szpetmanski; music, Michal Lorenc; production designer, Frantisek Liptak; costume designers, Malgorzata Gwiazdecka, Agata Culak. Reviewed on DVD, Hoveton, Norfolk, U.K., Nov. 16, 2007. (In Warsaw Film Festival.) Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Jiri Machacek, Zuzana Fialova, Marian Dziedziel, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Mieczyslaw Grabka, Lech Lotocki, Marek Litewka, Maciej Stuhr, Cezary Kosinski, Maria Ciunelis, Robert Wieckiewicz. Polish dialogue.

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