Zhoorek

Tele-produced Polish drama "Zhoorek," about a mother determined to find the father of her slow-witted, epileptic 15-year-old daughter's baby boy before Christmas, maintains a light touch despite potentially heavy-handed tragic forces at play. Named after Polish word for borscht, pic doesn't quite make hearty enough meal to serve at international tables but reps a tasty appetizer for future projects by helmer Ryszard Brylski.

With:
With: Katarzyna Figura, Natalia Rybicka, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Marek Kasprzyk, Dariusz Wnuk.

Effective tele-produced Polish drama “Zhoorek,” about a mother determined to find the father of her slow-witted, epileptic 15-year-old daughter’s baby boy before Christmas, maintains a surprisingly light touch despite potentially heavy-handed tragic forces at play. Named after Polish word for borscht, pic doesn’t quite make hearty enough meal to serve at international tables but reps a tasty appetizer for future projects by helmer Ryszard Brylski, making his sophomore feature here.

Recently widowed Halina (Katarzyna Figura) schleps her daughter, Iwonka (Natalia Rybicka), through the snow of the border town where they live, looking for the father of Iwonka’s newborn. The girl either can’t or won’t name who knocked her up, but with Halina’s prodding she points a shaky finger at various men, including her mom’s sometime lover (Marek Kasprzyk) and a local soldier (Dariusz Wnuk). Rape is treated depressingly matter-of-factly, but perfs are consistently fine throughout, especially from two leads and Polish character actor Zbigniew Zamachowski (“Three Colors: White”) in a small but crucial role. Michal Lorenc’s score sounds inappropriately chirpy at times, but rest of tech package is fine.

Zhoorek

Poland

Production: A Telewizja Polska presentation of a Pro Arte production with assistance of Agencja Filmowa. (International sales: Telewizja Polska, Warsaw.) Produced by Dorota Kazmierska-Nyczek, Tadeusz Nyczek. Executive producer, Andrezej Serdiukow. Directed, written by Ryszard Brylski, based on a story by Olgi Tokarczuk.

Crew: Camera (color) Arek Tomiak; editor, Jaroslaw Kaminski; music, Michal Lorenc; production designer, Grazyna Kozlowska; art director, Joanna Doroszkiewicz; costumes, Maria Kostrzewska-Baron. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 20, 2004. Running time: 76 MIN.

With: With: Katarzyna Figura, Natalia Rybicka, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Marek Kasprzyk, Dariusz Wnuk.

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