Winning Polish feature “All That I Love” lends a few unfamiliar wrinkles to some familiar coming-of-age tropes. Its protag is a high schooler with his own punk band in 1981, just as the Solidarity movement begins to seriously threaten communist rule. Deftly combining music, romance, politics and family drama, this autobiographical third feature by Jacek Borcuch (“Tulips”) is a thorough charmer that should pick up admirers on the fest circuit, with hopes of sparking interest from distribs en route.
Eighteen-year-old Janek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, a real find) is leader of a punk quartet whose members include floppy-haired blond guitarist Kazik (Jakub Gierszal), whose father regularly beats him. Janek has his own problems at home, as his rebelliousness clashes with the conformity necessitated by his father’s (Andrzej Chyra) position as a military police officer. Dad is especially nervous these days because workers strikes and Solidarity’s increasing influence have unsettled the status quo, prompting real fear that the Soviets might invade to impose order.
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Meanwhile, Janek has typical teenage concerns: getting gigs for his band, rendezvousing with a g.f. Basia (Olga Frycz), and spying with his mates on the sexy older neighbor (Katarzyna Herman) who eventually provides his sexual initiation.
When the neighbor’s humorless government-flunky husband takes jealous note of this liaison, he retaliates by attempting to shut down the band’s appearance at the school dance. This sparks a spontaneous protest that has the whole class moshing for Solidarity. (Refreshingly, the pic’s songs are early Polish punk classics right out of a 1981 ramalama punk songbook.)
Apart from a couple of stereotypical moments of Beatle-esque high spirits (running and jumping at the camera, etc.), “All That I Love” avoids cliche, despite similarities to a thousand prior coming-of-age stories. Adding unexpected depth is a poignant midpoint digression in which father and son travel to a dying grandmother’s bedside; we realize that despite their superficial conflicts, Janek’s relationship with Dad remains a warm and close one.
Perfs are sound all around, assembly smart with just the right gritty edge.