The Eccentrics is Janusz Majewski’s feature film based on a novel written by Włodzimierz Kowalewski. The film received a Silver Lion at the 40th Gdynia Film Festival.
Five years after Rite of Passage 1947 Janusz Majewski came back with a new film which received a Silver Lion for directing. At the same gala, Wojciech Pszoniak was awarded for the best supporting role for his performance in Majewski’s film. In 2016 The Eccentrics received seven nominations for Polish Eagle Film Awards given by Polish film industry.
Fabian, a war emigrant, jazz trombone player, and dancer, returns to Poland from London in the 1950s. Together with a group of local eccentrics and amateur musicians he forms a swing big band. With the first performance the band gathers an unexpected interest. Fabian meets Modest (Natalia Rybicka), an intriguing jazz singer, who joins the band. They become lovers and as the king and queen of swing lead the life of an admired pair against the gloomy reality of the decade. At a certain point of the film a romantic thread is overtaken by a spy one, with Modest being kidnapped.
Janusz Majewski draws an effervescent musical tale about life in the 1950s in Poland, simultaneously paying respect to jazz as the music of freedom. When asked by Jacek Szczerba (for an interview in Gazeta Wyborcza) Majewski stated that he is ‘a veteran among jazz fans’, and recollected his first encounter with jazz, the first Jazz All Souls Day (Zaduszki Jazzowe) in 1954 in Kraków and first attempts to work as a compere. This nostalgia emerges in the film. The spy intrigue and the romantic thread are not greatly important, rather the music and the intriguing jazz rhythms are.
Jakub Majmurek (Filmweb) wrote:
The music expresses the desire for freedom and a life more joyful than the one proposed by Gomułka with the militia, ubecja (the Polish secret police), overcrowding, tea in a glass, and unpleasant waiters. However, Majewski draws a balanced picture of the époque, without black and white distinctions, but with various shades of cooperation with the communist Polish authorities.
The director of The Enchanted Stations gathered actors who are musically talented: Maciej Stuhr (who attended a music school for ten years), Wiktor Zborowski, Sonia Bohosiewicz, and Natalia Rybicka. Acting is truly one of the strongest sides of The Eccentrics: especially the supporting roles of Anna Dymna as a vulgar old lady and Wojciech Pszoniak as Mr. Zuppe, an erudite piano tuner and homophobic homosexual who ‘seeks for pederasts in Polish poetry’.
Majewski’s film was welcomed warmly by journalists and audiences. As well as the aforementioned awards, the film received many positive reviews from Polish film critics. Zdzisław Pietrasik wrote in ‘Polityka’:
In The Eccentrics we have everything that characterized the best of Majewski’s previous films: a careful realization, refined scenography and good acting of both primary and secondary roles. (…) We also have a lot of good jazz from the époque, including On the Sunny Side of the Street. The film is a great proposal for those who want to lift their moods.
The Eccentrics. The Sunny Side of the Street, Poland 2015. Dir.: Janusz Majewski. Script: Włodzimierz Kowalewski, Janusz Majewski. Cinematography: Adam Bajerski. Music: Wojciech Karolak. Cast: Maciej Stuhr, Natalia Rybicka, Wiktor Zborowski, Sonia Bohosiewicz, Wojciech Pszoniak, Anna Dymna, and others.
Production: Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych. Colour. 112 min.
Source: Press Materials, BS, translated by: Antoni Wiśniewski, February 2016.