Film Review: ‘The Closed Circuit’

A compelling, strongly performed political thriller set in contempo Poland.

Janusz Gajos, Kazimierz Kaczor, Wojciech Zoladkowicz, Robert Olech, Przemyslaw Sadowski, Magdalena Kumorek, Monika Kwiatkowska, Jaroslaw Kopaczewski, Beata Scibakowna, Krzysztof Ogloza, Krzysztof Gordon. (Polish, English dialogue)

Inspired by real events, “The Closed Circuit” is a compelling, strongly performed political thriller about greed and corruption in contempo Gdansk, Poland, where some high-flying new entrepreneurs fall victim to the machinations of the city’s entrenched powers. One of the highest-grossing films of the year on home turf, this latest film from helmer Ryszard Bugajski (“Interrogation”) is traveling to independent venues in North America via new U.S. distributor Society Films.

The action begins in 2003, as young businessmen Piotr Maj (Robert Olech), Marek Stawski (Przemyslaw Sadowski) and Grzegorz Rybarcyzk (Jaroslaw Kopaczewski) throw a grand fete to open their new factory. They’re partners in a fast-growing, highly successful company called Navar, which produces high-tech electronics using state-of-the-art equipment from Denmark.

Lurking on the fringes of the festivities like some malevolent spider is district prosecutor Andrzej Kostrzewa (Janusz Gajos). A Communist Party stalwart from way back, Kostrzewa is a master manipulator and ruthless hunter who takes pleasure in eliminating weaker specimens. Joking that there are no honest businessmen in Poland, Kostrzewa establishes a secret alliance with city official Miroslaw Kaminski (Kazimierz Kaczor) and a high-ranking politician (Krzysztof Gordon), scheming to take over the company. They play on the ambitions of a pitbull-like younger prosecutor (Wojciech Zoladkowicz) and use him to carry out their insidious plan.

The businessmen are arrested and treated like dangerous criminals, accused of financial irregularities and money laundering. They are thrown into prison, where they face inhuman conditions, leaving Kostrzewa free to wheedle their shares from their significant others (Magdalena Kumorek, Monika Kwiatkowska and Beata Scibakowna). Meanwhile, an enterprising journalist (Krzysztof Ogloza) is assigned to chronicle Navar’s downfall, but the story he ultimately reports, documenting a closed circuit of corruption, doesn’t please his editor, much less those in the seats of power.

Popular on Variety

Co-written by producer Miroslaw Piepka and Michal S. Pruski, the screenplay shows how the ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of the new Poland threaten the older power brokers, whose thinking is deeply rooted in conspiracies and past pathologies. Although the dialogue and situations occasionally veer toward melodrama, director Bugajski keeps the overall tone closer to that of a political thriller. Fine performances rep the pic’s strong suit; although short and rather ordinary-looking, Gajos can be terrifying.

Tech credits are merely serviceable, with yellow-toned flashbacks to the 1960s looking particularly threadbare; it’s possible that the pic’s inherent criticism of the not-so-ancient regime accounts for why it received no funding from the Polish government. The producers ultimately raised a budget from a consortium of businesses.

Film Review: 'The Closed Circuit'

Reviewed at Society for Arts, Chicago, June 9, 2013. Running time: 110 MIN. Original title: "Uklad zamkniety"

Production: (Poland) A Society Films (in U.S.)/Kino Swiat (in Poland) release of a Filmicon Dom Filmowy production in co-production with Apella, Arche, Srodowisko i Innowacje, Eda Coffee, Hemarpol Sp, Orlex, Silesian Catalysts, Polcopper, Schach-Matt, and Drop. (International sales: EastWest, Vienna.) Produced by Olga Bieniek, Miroslaw Piepka.

Crew: Directed by Ryszard Bugajski. Screenplay, Miroslaw Piepka, Michal S. Pruski. Camera (color, HD), Piotr Sobocinski Jr.; editor, Irena Siedlar; music, Shane Harvey; production designer, Aniko Kiss; costumer designer, Krzysztof Loszewski; sound (SR), Adam Wilk.

With: Janusz Gajos, Kazimierz Kaczor, Wojciech Zoladkowicz, Robert Olech, Przemyslaw Sadowski, Magdalena Kumorek, Monika Kwiatkowska, Jaroslaw Kopaczewski, Beata Scibakowna, Krzysztof Ogloza, Krzysztof Gordon. (Polish, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Bong Joon Ho, Jane Rosenthal, David

    Netflix Praised by 'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Filmmakers at Producers Guild Panel

    Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. [...]

  • Gabriel Harel on MyFFF ‘The Night

    Gabriel Harel Discusses Dystopic Parable ‘The Night of the Plastic Bags’

    With his first short film, the animated “Yùl and the Snake,” Gabriel Harel won Europe’s Cartoon d’Or for the continent’s best animated short film, given at the 2016 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. Now, Harel’s awaited sophomore effort, the animated “The Night of the Plastic Bags,” competes at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, and is available on a swathe [...]

  • MyFrenchFilmFestival: Profiling Benjamin Crotty’s Short ‘Nicolas

    ‘The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin’: Nationalism Wrapped in Charisma

    Winner of Locarno’s Signs of Life section, Benjamin Crotty’s “The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin” has enjoyed more than 12 months of festival success and critical acclaim as it reaches the end of its festival run at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival. A modern take on one of France’s most influential yet widely unknown characters, the film headlines [...]

  • Alexander Ludwig

    Alexander Ludwig on Sharing his Recovery Journey, Playing the 'Bad Boys' Tech Guy

    With his towering height and stature, Alexander Ludwig looks every bit the action star, first appearing as Cato in “The Hunger Games,” and more recently as fierce Norse Viking chief Bjorn Ironside on History Channel’s “Vikings” and in “Bad Boys for Life,” the third installment of the “Bad Boys” franchise, with Will Smith and Martin [...]

  • Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Scores Big With $66 Million Launch

    “Bad Boys for Life” is showing plenty of power at the North American box office with an impressive  launch of around $66 million at 3,740 venues over the four-day holiday weekend. Sony’s sequel to 1995’s “Bad Boys” and 2003’s “Bad Boys II” far exceeded the studio’s pre-release forecasts of a $38 million weekend. The film, [...]

  • A Bump Along the Way Movie

    'A Bump Along the Way': Film Review

    While “Derry Girls” continues to be the last word in young, raucous female rebellion on the Emerald Isle, “A Bump Along the Way” has a little something to add. Sin the same Northern Irish city as the hit Netflix sitcom, but shedding the ’90s nostalgia for the Snapchat age, Shelly Love’s appealing, unassuming debut feature [...]

  • Tresor Plots $72 Million 'Asterix &

    Tresor Films Plots $72 Million 'Asterix & Obelix: The Silk Road,' New Projects (EXCLUSIVE)

    After delivering two of the highest-grossing French films of last year, Alain Attal’s Paris-based production company Tresor Films (“Sink or Swim,” “Little White Lies 2”) is kicking off 2020 with its most ambitious project yet, Guillaume Canet’s “Asterix & Obelix: The Silk Road.” Co-produced and financed by Jerome Seydoux’s Pathé, “Asterix & Obelix” is budgeted [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content