Feature film directed by Magdalena Piekorz, 2008. Three intertwined stories about contemporary thirty-year-olds at a crossroads in their lives: each of them faces overwhelming challenges...
Magdalena Piekorz's debut film Pręgi / The Welts was an event. It won the Golden Lions - Main Prize at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia as well as the prizes for cinematography, costumes, sound, and the audience award - the Golden Claqueur for the film which was applauded the longest at the festival. Polish critics gave the picture equally high marks, hailing it as the best Polish film of the season, as did members of the Polish Film Academy, granting The Welts an Eagle - Polish Film Award for the best film of the year (the first time ever that this honour fell to a debuting director). These artistic successes were accompanied by commercial success - The Welts drew over 400,000 people to Polish cinemas, which for a domestic production is a number far above the average. Another fact testifying to audiences' appreciation for the film and its director was its winning "Film" monthly's prestigious Golden Duck poll.
Senność / Drowsiness is the second feature in the young director's output. We waited four years; does it come up to expectations? Has Magdalena Piekorz successfully cleared the "second film threshold", allegedly the most difficult in any director's career? The audience's reaction at the Gdynia festival left no room for doubt; Piekorz's film was applauded the longest of all the films in the competition - Drowsiness won the Golden Claqueur.
This is how Magdalena Piekorz presents her film in an interview (available in the distributor's materials):
" 'Drowsiness' is a story about people who realize at some point in their lives that they are shouldering a burden, a cross, which is weighing down on them too much. They feel at a dead end, but meeting others with similar problems makes them look differently at reality and decide to change something. The film has three main characters - Róża who suffers from narcolepsy and suspects her husband of cheating on her, Robert who is a writer and realizes that the relationship he's been in for many years is an unfulfilling one, and the family into which he has married is completely different mentally from him - they are hard to live with and oppressive. There's also the story of Adam who, though he has very good relations with his parents - simple people - decides to leave his family home and move to the city. First and foremost, though, he discovers his identity, his real self, and takes the first serious step towards being true to himself. And this is what the film is about - that it's worth being true to yourself in life. The sooner you start acting in accordance with your own conscience and morals, instead of acting against them, the easier it becomes to achieve genuine happiness."
Piekorz's film can be seen as three intertwined stories about contemporary thirty-year-olds at a crossroads in their lives: each of them faces overwhelming challenges. You can also see the film as a metaphor of a generation entangled in the rat race: the world belongs to the winners. But, the winners are few - what about the rest? Perhaps we need to admit openly that not everyone is suited for the rat race, but everyone is entitled to happiness. How can it be achieved? The first - most difficult - step is to be honest with yourself; to make a gesture of honesty which will become the key to your inner self, to liberation in a broad sense.
Audiences gave Drowsiness a good reception, seeing it as a useful reminder of a few familiar truths that we tend to forget in the heat of the rat race. Critics, on the other hand, were put off by the work's excessively literary character, which shouldn't come as a surprise given the strong creative personality of writer Wojciech Kuczok, the screenplay's author. It's worth highlighting the film's "Altmanesque" structure and the division into three parts marked by the work of Marcin Koszałka's camera - the story of Róża the actress is told in the mood of a nightmare, the tale of Robert seems grotesque, while the story of Adam, the doctor who musters the courage to admit he is different, breathes realism. Drowsiness is one of those projects we could call a "generation film": portraying a specific generation and providing it with food for thought.
- Senność / Drowsiness, Poland 2008. Director: Magdalena Piekorz, screenplay: Wojciech Kuczok, cinematography: Marcin Koszałka, music: Adrian Konarski, set design: Katarzyna Sobańska, editing: Wojciech Mrówczyński, sound: Michał Żarnecki. Cast: Małgorzata Kożuchowska (Róża), Michał Żebrowski (her husband), Krzysztof Zawadzki (Robert), Joanna Pierzak (Anna, his wife), Rafał Maćkowiak (Adam), Bartosz Obuchowicz ("Bystry"), Dorota Pomykała (Adam's mother), Andrzej Grabowski (Adam's father), Anna Tomaszewska (Robert's mother-in-law), Marian Dziędziel (Robert's father-in-law). Production: Tor Film Studio, Documentary and Feature Film Studio (WFDiF), IF "Silesia-Film", co-financed by: Polish Film Institute, Silesian Film Fund, distribution: Vision. Length 105 min. Released on 17 October 2008.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski, October 2008