“People who have experienced violence, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia, internet hate, fat phobia and other forms of bullying or who are struggling with an eating disorder are particularly at risk.” With that title card, Aleksandra Terpinska opens her feature debut, Other People (based on the novel by Dorota Maslowska) – a Polish free-style hip-hop musical that cleverly blends the daily routines of three households through rhythm and lots of internal dialogue.
Set in Warsaw, 20-something Kamil (Jacek Beler) dreams of recording his first hip-hop album. Without any real cash flow, he spends his days roaming the streets or cheating on his social media addicted girlfriend, Aneta (Magdalena Kolesnik). Rich lady, Iwona (Sonia Bohosiewicz) has everything she’s ever dreamed of, but feels stuck in an unhappy marriage, dealing with her husband, who’s currently going through all the stages of a mid-life crisis. As soon as her husband is out the door, she texts Kamil for a quick fuck or stalks her husband’s mistress on social media while popping pills and drinking champagne.
The way Aleksandra Terpinska has crafted a modern urban musical that not only blends hip-hop with spoken word, but also ticks all the boxes of what’s wrong with today’s society, is a true feat on its own. To then also be able to layer these character’s thoughts on screen by way of setting up their surroundings against them and digging deeper into their desires and insecurities is done in a rather meticulous way that keeps you invested and intrigued.
The warning opening card is in fact a smart choice, as there is a lot of offensive dialogue, but especially a scene in which Aneta fat shames her supposedly lesbian roommate on Instagram Live is something that will shock a lot of viewers (including me). As desperate and sad all of these characters may be, the nasty commentary and views they portray on the world are both pathetic and unfortunately an honest representation of the small-mindedness of today’s world. This movie is basically the comment section of every progressive news article you see on Facebook – vile, absurd & unbelievable.
The entire cast does a remarkable job at portraying these characters. Especially Sonia Bohosiewicz radiates the pain and desperation of Iwona through a powerful performance. I personally don’t speak a word of Polish, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the subtitles, but even if they weren’t, congrats to the person in charge because there was a lot of text to cover. The lightning fast editing is on another level, where as soon as a modernised version of Jesus (played by a convincing Sebastian Fabijanski) starts spitting bars in true narrator-style, we see a change in filming style between rap-sequences (filmed as if it’s a music video) and regular dialogue.
With Other People, up-and-coming writer/director Aleksandra Terpinska showcases her confidence behind the camera, raising the bar higher for modern Polish cinema.
Reviewed November 22, 2021 (screener provided by publicist). Rating: TBC. Running time: 106 min.
PRODUCTION: A New Europe Film Sales release of a Madants, Moderator Inwestycje, Film Produkcja, Mazowiecki i Warzawski Fundusz Filmowy, Abstraction Plan & Canal+ Polska production, in association with Warner Bros. Polska & Alcatraz Films. Producers: Beata Rzezniczek & Klaudia Smieja-Rostworowska.
CREW: Director: Aleksandra Terpinska. Writing: Dorota Maslowska & Aleksandra Terpinska. Editing: Magdalena Chowanska. Cinematography: Bartosz Bieniek. Music: Marek Aureliusz Teodoruk.
CAST: Jacek Beler, Sonia Bohosiewicz, Magdalena Kolesnik, Marek Kalita, Sebastian Fabijanski, Beata Kawka, Krystyna Tkacz, Piotr Witkowski & Maciej Nawrocki.