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Mother Teresa of Cats

An experiment in flashback structure reaps diminishing returns in this somber drama.

Cast:
With: Ewa Skibinska, Mariusz Bonaszewski, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Filip Garbacz.

An experiment in flashback structure reaps diminishing returns in somber drama “Mother Teresa of Cats,” from debuting Polish helmer Pawel Sala. Based on the brutal real-life murder of a mother by her two sons, pic plods backward in time from the arrest of the culprits in a succession of short scenes that mark an unsuccessful attempt to make psychological sense of the crime. Slated to open domestically in September, this is bleak, arty fare that will rep catnip to certain parts of the international fest circuit.

Saleswoman Teresa (Ewa Skibinska) and military hubby Hubert (Mariusz Bonaszewski) spawned sons Artur (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, impressive), 22, and Marcin (Filip Garbacz), 12, as well as a young daughter. Increasingly unruly, Artur claims he can read minds, predict events and bring the dead back to life. He also says he’s been abused by his father. Given the excessive number of felines Teresa keeps around the house, it’s clear something’s not right with this family, but exactly what remains vague. Despite valiant thesping, the characters remain ciphers. Steady, blue-green toned lensing by Mikolaj Lebkowski anchors pic’s dispassionate tone; other tech credits are fine.

Mother Teresa of Cats

Poland

Production: A Syrena Films release of a Zespol Filmowy Rozwoj production, in co-production with DeLord, Syrena Films, with the support of the Polish Film Institute. (International sales: Syrena Films, Warsaw.) Produced by Slawomir Rogowski. Executive producer, Adam Sokolowski. Directed, written by Pawel Sala.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Mikolaj Lebkowski; editor, Agnieszka Glinska; music, Marcin Krzyzanowski; production designer, Katarzyna Jarnuszkiewicz; costume designer, Monika Jagodzinska. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 12, 2010. (Also in Karlovy Vary Festival -- competing.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Ewa Skibinska, Mariusz Bonaszewski, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Filip Garbacz.

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