Somewhat old-fashioned in subject matter, symbolism and production design, Michal Rosa's "Scratch" shows how a couple's strong 40-year marriage is mortally wounded by a secret that undermines their entire life together.

Somewhat old-fashioned in subject matter, symbolism and production design, “Scratch,” from Polish helmer-writer Michal Rosa (“What the Sun Has Seen”) shows how a couple’s strong 40-year marriage is mortally wounded by a secret that undermines their entire life together. A tad too deliberately paced, and with some plot threads left dangling, this intimate, low-key drama will most likely find fest and Euro TV berths.

Unfolding over four seasons in Krakow, the story begins at an anniversary party for 60ish academics Joanna (Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak) and Jan (Krzysztof Stroinski). Among the gifts is a videotape containing a program about secret police collaborators. It implicates Jan, suggesting he wooed and wed Joanna as part of his mission. Although he denies it, she goes into shock, literally and figuratively losing her taste for life. Over time, the drab interiors of their home become a psychological battleground as she withdraws from him in progressively crueler ways. Tightly wound Jankowska-Cieslak is good as the woman overcome by repulsion for her formerly dear husband, while Stroinski is even better as the mate who may — or may not — have betrayed her. Naturalistic tech package is pro.

Scratch

Poland

Production

A Filmcontract production, in association with Polish Television, the Documentary and Features Film Studio, the Polish Film Institute. (International sales: M-Appeal, Berlin.) Produced by Henryk Romanowski, Dariusz Sidor. Directed, written by Michal Rosa.

Crew

Camera (color), Marcin Koszalka; editor, Krzysztof Szpetmanski; music, Stanislaw Radwan; art director, Jagna Janicka. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 27, 2008. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak, Krzysztof Stroinski, Ewa Telega.

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