Seven policemen, seven deadly sins, a murder case, secrets and the filth of everyday police work: Traffic Department transports the viewer into the darkest Warsaw streets.
Drogówka / Traffic Department is the story of seven policemen from Warsaw - work colleagues and good friends whose lives change after one of them dies in mysterious circumstances. Sergeant Ryszard Król (Bartłomiej Topa) is one of those accused in the death. Attempting to clear his record, Król discovers the truth about links between the government and criminals.
"Eight years ago I was making a TV programme under the same title", Smarzowski said during an interview for the website stopklatka.pl. "I knew back then that the language that policemen use and their whole world is very energetic from a cinematic point of view. [...] But the project only started coming together after Rose came together, because I needed to make a completely different type of film."
"Traffic Department is a colourful story about contemporary Warsaw", Smarzowski commented about his film. "A subjective portrait of a capital that pulses with traffic lights, turn-signals and sirens. [...] It's about the fact that if there are those that take, there must be those that give. The most important thing for me is the story of people. About the human being. About values."
Smarzowski boldly mixes images of cheap vodka with religious relics. As the drunk policemen sing patriotic songs during a coach ride one of the female protagonists waves a figurine of Mother Mary. In the film, each cop represents one of the seven deadly sins. One of the actors, Arkadiusz Jakubik comments, "The person I am playing, Petrycki, symbolises the adulterer. He's a womanizer. On the set I got the nickname Latino Lover. Petrycki is a sun-bed addict so before going on set I had to be spray-tanned every time." Actor Eryk Lubos plays a racist - the symbol of wrath - while Jacek Braciak portrays gluttony and Marcin Dorociński's character is greed.
"Ryszard Król, the policeman accused of the murder, is pride", actor Bartłomiej Topa says. "Although he is surrounded by lots of people, he wants to do everything by himself [...] among other things, Traffic Department is a film about loneliness. About the independence of making decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions."
The director, Smarzowski, characterised his film in an interview for the Polish Press Agency as a "criminal story with a beginning of a typical social film [...] I also wanted to make a film about corruption. [...] I don't make films that are clear-cut. The characters are thrown into 'the dark side', but I try to come to their help. I am always very sensitive towards the films I make, I try to understand the characters."
The early Polish reviews have received the film positively. Karolina Pasternak from the website Stopklatka writes that "the puzzle-like construction of Traffic Department turned out to its advantage", "the dialogues are very real" and "every detail was meticulously looked after". Łukasz Adamski wrote for wnas.pl, "On the one hand Traffic Department plays on stereotypes, but on the other hand, it's a big-time thriller". Writing for Polska The Times, Lucjan Strzyga said "Smarzowski's success lies in the fact that he showed us the inside of police work. But he might as well have taken his camera among the firefighters, waiters or nurses…"
Writing about the film for culture.pl the critic Staszczyszyn draws attention to the affinity between Smarzowski's films. "Traffic Department represents the same dirty world that was visible in The Wedding, The Dark House and Rose. Talking about Warsaw policemen, corruption and an investigation, he revives motifs and artifacts (like the axe) that were seen in his other movies. The strength of Smarzowski's cinema lies in his being consequent in portraying a rotten universe. Here, there is nothing mystical about evil, it's the result of immorality and the abject side of human nature. The creator of The Dark House paints a picture of a world in dissaray and Traffic Department is another one of its faces." According to Staszczyszyn, the film shows a reality stripped of intimacy, one that does not leave room for empathy and understanding. It is a reality that can be peeked - certain scenes are recording from mobile phones and CCTV cameras. "But the contemporary "peeping Tom" doesn't have the face of Karlheinz Böhm from Michael Powell's film nor than of James Stewart from Hitchcock's Rear Window." the critic writes, "it's nosyness not curiosity."
Shortly after the premiere of Traffic Department, the director returns to the set of Angel, his project based on Jerzy Pilch's book The Mighty Angel After that, as Bartosz Staszczyszyn writes in his article for culture.pl, he plans on taking a long break from directing.
Drogówka / Traffic Department comes to cinemas across Poland on the 1st of February 2013.
- Traffic Department , Poland 2013. Script and directing: Wojciech Smarzowski, cinematography: Piotr Sobociński jr, music: Mikołaj Trzaska, set design: Joanna Macha, costumes: Katarzyna Lewińska, editing: Paweł Laskowski, sound: Katarzyna Dzida-Hamela, Jacek Hamela. Cast: Bartłomiej Topa (Ryszard Król), Arkadiusz Jakubik (Bogdan Petrycki), Julia Kijowska (Maria Madecka), Eryk Lubos (Marek Banaś), Robert Wabich (Henryk Hawryluk), Jacek Braciak (Jerzy Trybus), Marcin Dorociński (Krzysztof Lisowski), Marian Dziędziel (Gołąb), Agata Kulesza (Jadzia), Izabela Kuna (Ewa), Maciej Stuhr (Zaręba), Adam Woronowicz (prosecutor Czech), Marcin Czarnik (Walczak), Michał Gadomski (Wojnar), Aleksandra Domańska (Lena), Krzysztof Dracz (Świtoń), Lech Dyblik (Maślanka), Grzegorz Wojdon (Wąs), Andrzej Grabowski (Musiał) and others. Production: Film It. Coproduction: Agora S.A., Telekomunikacja Polska, Canal+ Polska. Distribution: Next Film.
Sources: based on the article by Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl
Editor: Marta Jazowska