A 40 year old woman in crisis who acts as call girl to spend the night in a warm bed while the men she promised sex to lie sedated. Called by critics a classy art-house suspense thriller, a story about desperation diving into a character study about female prostitutes.
Katarzyna Herman in Tomasz Wasilewski's "In A Bedroom", photo:.IQ ART Film.
Edyta (Katarzyna Herman) is forty years old. A couple of days ago she came to Warsaw and she is starting to run out of money. She sleeps in her car. In order to earn enough for fuel and food she puts out an add on a sex website. In the evenings she meets with the men, slips a knockout pill into their drink and then robs them. Through the same means she meets Patryk, an artist who is a couple of years younger than her. There begins a tentative relationship, initially based on mistrust but gradually developing as she slowly opens up about the reasons for her behaviour.
Tomasz Wasilewski’s feature debut is "minimalistic in form, psychologically tense yet delicate at the same time. All this, and much more" as Vaidė Legotaitė writing for Nisimagazine puts it. Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton calls it a tense but teasingly open-ended debut and adds,
Male movie directors have long had a slightly dubious fascination with female prostitutes, but thankfully this contemporary Polish drama does not pander to tired screen stereotypes about sex workers. The feature-length debut of 32-year-old writer-director Tomasz Wasilewski is an artfully shot character study that reveals its psychological depths with guarded caution, like a slow-motion striptease. Superficially about the business of sex, it soon delves into deeper and more nuanced material.
Before anything appears on the screen, the viewer can hear the squawking of seagulls. The noise resembles a terrified human cry. The same sound, though less intense is heard at the end of the film. Writing for culture.pl Bartosz Staszczyszyn calls In a Bedroom a tale about a hopeless elopement from the prose of life. Edyta tries to break from the role given to her by social norms. "She doesn’t want to be a wife and mother, she doesn’t know how to be a fallen women or femme fatale".
"Sex, lies and loneliness in contemporary Poland." the article in Hollywood Reporter continues. Telling us the story about the lonely woman, Wasilewski confronts us with a secret. The viewer doesn’t know anything about the film’s protagonist. We only know she ran away from a small city, that she left behind a husband who she calls from time to time. "Rewarding curious niche audiences with a taste for bittersweet Eastern European realism" as Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton remarks, the work focuses on the way Edyta tries to escape her own fears. Wasilewski seems to be concerned with rebellion as a desperate attempt to free oneself from somebody else’s projections, expectation and the social context. Wasilewski puts more emphasis on images than dialogues, his camera is placed in a way that promotes an intimate dialogue between the protagonist and the viewer. "I wanted to try to get as close to the human being as possible" – the director said during a press conference.
Little remains known about Edyta and the people she met even after the end of the film. "Her journey ends on a frustratingly unresolved note, more with a whimper than a bang, leaving the real emotional fireworks to explode after the credits roll. It is both compliment and criticism that In A Bedroom leaves you wanting more, much like Edyta’s duped clients" Dalton goes on to write. The man (Mirosław Zbrojewicz) that wants to pay for sex with Edyta, a young actress met during a night walk (Agata Buzek), and finally Patryk (Tomek Tyndyk) a lonely man who becomes Edyta’s friend – they all remain mysterious. All of them are also afraid of confrontation. "Wasilewski prefers to say five words less than one too many, rather than have everything served on a silver platter, he prefers to leave the viewer space for speculation and interpretation" Przemysław Gulda comments on Gazeta.pl.
Wasilewski's film was made on a small budget. With a mere 8000 zlotys (more or less 2000 euros) there were bound to be technical hiccups. In an interview for Nisimagazine, Wasilewski says "A funny thing happened when we have the scene with Edyta running on the bridge. She runs quite fast and we didn’t have the right equipment so the cameraman had to film her wearing roller blades. He was rollerblading backwards in front of the actress".
The film was well received in Poland where writing for Filmweb Łukasz Muszyński remarks that the movie proves that good cinema can be made even on a small budget, "In A Bedroom is the work of a very talented man who has his own vision of cinema and knows how to transfer it to the screen". The film features a score by jazz virtuoso Leszek Możdżer one of Poland's most famous jazz musicians. Piotr Guszkowski from Onet.pl observes "Leszek Możdżer's unsettling paino pieces bring an atmosphere of creative dissonance into the narrative structure of the film".
Wasilweski is a graduate of the Łodz Film School and the Warsaw Film and Television Academy. In 2009, for One Man Show he received awards at the Independent Cinema Film Festivals in Rybnik and Łodz. He cooperated with Zentrop production house on Lars von Trier's Antichrist and Per Fly's The Woman Who Dreamt of a Man. He was Malgorzata Szumowska's assistant on the set of 33 Scenes From Life. In A Bedroom os his feature debut.
The film comes to Polish cinemas on October 26th 2012.
- November 2012, Special Mention of the Ecumenical Jury at the International Competition during the 61st International Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival
- In A Bedroom / W sypialni, Poland 2012, 76 minutes. Directing and script: Tomasz Wasilewski, cinematography: Marcin Martinez Swystun, music: Leszek Możdżer, at direction: Anna Tomczyńska, costumes: Monika Kaleta,editing: Aleksandra Gowin, sound: Kamil Radziszewski, Wojciech Cwyk. Cast: Katarzyna Herman (Ewa - Edyta), Tomasz Tyndyk (Patryk), Agata Buzek (Klaudia), Mirosław Zbrojewicz (Jacek), Janusz Chabior, Milena Kaleta, Anna Tomczyńska, Edward Wasilewski, Danuta Wasilewska, Paweł Tomaszewski. Production companies: IQ ART Film, coproduction: IQ ARTivists, OP1 Outpost One Entertainment. Producers: Michal Toczyski, Grazyna Strzalkowska. Distribution: Alter Ego Pictures Sp. z o.o.
Sources: based on the article by Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl, Hollywood Reporter, Nisimagazine, Screendaily, Variety, Cineeurope
Editor: Marta Jazowska