2011 feature film directed by Greg Zgliński.
Scene from Wymyk, dir. Greg Zglinski
At the centre of Wymyk is a rivalry between two adult brothers. The younger brother, Jerzy, has just returned to Poland from the United States with his two children, and threatens the position of his elder brother, Alfred. The former is a widower (Alfred and his wife Viola have no children). Jerzy's return awakens his mother's compassion, who as the head of the family business insists on involving him in the day-to-day running of the firm, much to the joy of their father – who had retired following a stroke.
When one day Jerzy defends a woman from young louts on a train, Alfred did not rush to his aid. On the contrary – he steps back, intimidated by the unfolding violence. Jerzy gets pushed out of the speeding train, and the young woman pulls the emergency brake, bringing the locomotive to a sudden stop. Alfred loses his footing and falls over, severely injuring his face. The attackers and the girl disappear, and the severely injured Jerzy ends up in hospital. Alfred, physically and emotionally bruised, ends up in police custody as the only witness and suspect. At home he is met by questions about the fate of his brother, and also about why he did nothing to prevent the tragedy. Meanwhile a mobile-phone video surfaces on the internet showing how the matter really unfolded, as well as revealing Alfred's cowardice.
All of this raises the question: How would we have acted in the same situation?
I once experienced something quite similar – although not as violent. I was in my mid-twenties and I rode in a compartment with an old Russian couple, who were carrying a lot of stuff to trade. We were suddenly joined by a drunkard. When he heard that they were talking in Russian, he became aggressive and started threatening them. I should have grabbed him and thrown him out. But I could not get myself to do it, even though he was neither big, nor did he look like he was exceedingly strong. I just let myself be intimidated. This situation haunted me for a long time. [...] In Wymyk cowardice takes a very dramatic form, but you can try to figure out why this happened, perhaps even sympathise. I do not excuse Alfred's actions, but whenever I think about it, I tried to imagine which elements of Alfred's past contributed to his lack of response on the train. This is the kind of hero who only discovers who he really is in an extreme situation.
-Director, Greg Zgliński in an interview with monthly magazine Kino (No. 11/2011).
In addition to the weight of the questions posed by the director,Wymyk stands out not only by its narrative style, but a mature cast of actors, distinguished by Robert Więckiewicz's role as Alfred (who won a jury award at the 2011 Warsaw Film Festival). It won Best Screenplay at the Polish Film Festival, Best Director (in the debut and second film category) and Best Supporting Actress for Gabriela Muskała. In April 2012 the film won Best Foreign Feature at the Independent Film Festival in Rome.
Greg Zgliński, is one of the last protégés of Krzysztof Kieslowski, tells a story of ordinary people from the Polish countryside in a way which makes you think. Alfred, Jerzy, Viola, and their parents are no different from our neighbours. Before we begin to judge them all, however – after all, not only Alfred's behavior is questionable – Jerzy and Viola have their own faults. We should ask ourselves, would we have stood beside Alfred while his brother was being attacked by the hooligans? Depending on our generation, we should all answer a similar question: was it hard to abandon the typewriter for the computer, did we hesitate before buying a mobile phone, to take out a mortgage? And how would we act if we heard the cry of a child in the street? These questions are not much different from those Alfred had to answer himself.
- excerpt from a review in the Kino monthly (No. 11/2011).
Konrad J. Zarębski
Poland 2011. Directed by: Greg [Grzegorz] Zgliński. Screenplay by: Janusz Margański, Grzegorz Zgliński based on a story by “Jerzy” Cezary Harasimowicz. Cinematography by: Witold Płóciennik. Music by: Jacek Grudzień, Mariusz Ziemba. Set design by: Elwira Pluta. Costumes by: Małgorzata Zacharska. Editing by: Leszek Starzyński. Sound: Michał Kosterkiewicz. Starring: Robert Więckiewicz (Alfred), Łukasz Simlat (Jerzy), Gabriela Muskała (Viola), Marian Dziędziel (father), Anna Tomaszewska (mother), Karoloina Kominek (Klara), Paweł Tomaszewski (“Kosa”). Produced by: Opus Film. Co-financed by: Polish Film Institute, Łódź City Hall. Distributed by: Best Film. Running time: 85 min. In cinemas November 18, 2011.