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WARSAW 2016 Special Screenings

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True Crime: Shooting yourself in the foot

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- Alexandros Avranas misses the target in his second film, critically assisted by the clunky mix of US and European approaches to production

True Crime: Shooting yourself in the foot
Jim Carrey in True Crime

The highly anticipated new film by Miss Violence [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alexandros Avranas
film profile
]
director Alexandros AvranasTrue Crime (although it is listed on IMDB and in publicity materials as True Crimes, the opening credits have the title in the singular), is a case study of how to make a true story hard to buy. Take a Polish real-life story from a New Yorker article (True Crime: A Postmodern Murder Mystery by David Grann), have the, admittedly excellent, writer Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), adapt it heavily, put together an international cast that includes arthouse stalwarts such as Charlotte Gainsbourg and Vlad Ivanov, shoot it in Krakow, and feature Jim Carrey in the starring role of a Polish policeman.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)Cine Iberoamericano Int

The opening of the film, presented as a Special Screening at the 32nd Warsaw Film Festival, promises a dark, sex crime-themed thriller. S&M club “The Cage” is the site of Salò-style perversities executed on beautiful women by powerful men. It is also the site of an actual crime: one of the patrons was killed in a brutally bizarre manner. The case was closed without ever finding the perpetrator, but Carrey's detective, Tadek, is determined to solve it, as one last hurrah before retirement.

He has a suspect: popular and controversial author Kozlow (Marton Csokas). In his most recent novel, the writer described a murder, which is identical to the one Tadek is investigating, in gory detail. We hear this description through the audiobook that Tadek is, rather incredibly, listening to over breakfast with his aseptic wife (Ida [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile
]
star Agata Kulesza).

Of course, re-opening a cold case is every police superior's nightmare, and that includes Tadek's boss (Kaurismäki regular Kati Outinen), as well as the corrupt head of police (Polish superstar Robert Wieckiewicz). Limited help comes from his colleague Piotr (Ivanov, whose very presence manages to give the film some gravity), and he locates one of The Cage’s former employees, drug-addicted single mother Kasia (Gainsbourg). Realising that she is Kozlow's former girlfriend, Tadek feels he is closing in. 

All the facial hair in the world couldn’t successfully turn Carrey into a believable Eastern European, although he does his best to convey weariness and gruffness. The claustrophobically grey Krakow setting lends some plausibility to the film, which is accentuated by Michal Englert's (Body [+see also:
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interview: Malgorzata Szumowska
interview: Malgorzata Szumowska
film profile
]
, Anatomy of Evil [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) expressive cinematography and a meaty (although overused) score by Richard Patrick. A feeble attempt at a historical reference comes in the form of a passing mention of Solidarity in one of the dialogues.

This production pudding is so artificial that it is hard to believe any of the characters, save for Gainsbourg's, whose inherent vulnerability and intensity lend authenticity to the role. Miss Violence was also a fully artificial construction, but the nature of the story was the right match for Avranas' approach. In True Crime, the production aspect made certain that it would not work.

True Crime is a co-production between Poland's Opus Film and US companies RatPac Entertainment and InterTitle Films. Sales are handled by Bevery Hills' WME.

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