A film intertwining three taboo themes: incestuous love, the strength of neo-Nazis groups and the integration of Roma communities. Compared by critics to Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heart and called a topnotch craft package, Filip Marczewski's feature debut premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2012
Movie still, photo: Kino Swiat
The main plot centers around the difficult love between 18 year old Tadek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, All That I Love) and his beautiful older half-sister Anka (Agnieszka Grochowska, In Darkness). Having run away from his aunt, Tadek arrives in southern Poland at his sister's doorstep. With the siblings mother gone, Tadek expects more affection from Anka than the later is willing to show. He discovers she is involved with a married man, the leader of a local neo-Nazi group and aspiring politician Andrzej (Maciej Marczewski, the director's brother).
The subject matter of Shameless is a continuation of Filip Marczewski's award winning short film Melodramat, picturing the love of a young boy for his older sister. While critics have praised Shameless for being, as says InDieWire's Boyd van Hoeij, "surprisingly light of touch while exploring complicated and dark themes", most agree that the main topic it treats remains "tame". "Compared to Melodramat, in Shameless the forbidden passion and its emotional consequences are kind of cleaned up: no deep investigation of the protagonist’s obsession, no attempt to visualize his inner projections and conflicts" says Nisimagazine's Sebastiano Pucciarelli.
In the course of the summer Tadek meets Irmina (Anna Prochniak in her first film role) a bright, confident gypsy girl who despite her family's dismissal of the idea wants to become a doctor. Her father plans an arranged marriage for her but Irmina sees Tadek as her future husband. Tadek however is blinded by his feelings to Anka and ignorant of Irmina. Reviewers have commented that the film doesn't explore the brother-sister relationship, the problems of the gypsy settlement and the neo-Nazis with enough depth, "these threads aren't as well integrated into the pic's brief running time as they could be" says a Variety review.
The film's director has called the film "a portrayal of the pain of growing up and standing up against societal taboos and finally about the freedom to follow one's own path in life. The protagonists and their complicated relations are of the highest importance, I was sensitive to their emotions, doubts and desires". Writing for InDieWire's Playlist Jessica Kiang summerised,
"While there is much to admire, especially for a novice filmmaker, [...] the film would have benefitted from spending less time on the splashy, logline-grabbing brother/sister romance, and a little more on the supporting cast and subplots that actually turn out to be a great deal more intriguing. Still Marczewski is definitely a director to watch, for his deft handling of politically tricky subject matter and for his ability to get remarkable performances from his actors. Once he hones his storytelling instincts to the same degree, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with indeed".
- Shameless / Bez Wstydu, Poland 2012, directed by Filip Marczewski written by Grzegorz Łoszewski, Filip Marczewski director of photography Szymon Lenkowski production design by Anna Wunderlich costume design by Agata Culak sound by Tomasz Wieczorek music by Paweł Mykietyn edited by Rafał Listopad production manager Magdalena Badura producer Michał Kwieciński produced by Akson Studio co-produced by Telekomunikacja Polska S.A., Telewizja Polska S.A., Odra Film co-financed by Polish Film Institute, Lower Silesia Film Fund. Cast Mateusz Kościukiewicz (Tadek), Agnieszka Grochowska (Anka, Tadek's Sister), Maciej Marczewski (Anka's Boyfriend), Anna Próchniak (Irmina), 80'
Sources: culture.pl, Variety, InDieWire's the Playlist, InDieWire, Nisimagazine, Screendaily, PISF
Author: Marta Jazowska