The hood trying to go straight has been a staple of the gangster movie almost since its inception, but the premise still resonates in this first-rate crime thriller from Poland (2010). In the opening scene, Michal (Wojciech Zielinski) rescues his friend Janek (Tomasz Schuchardt) from drowning; a few years later Janek gets a chance to repay the favor when Michael—now married and preparing to christen his first child—enrages the merciless crime lord who once employed both men. Director Marcin Wrona paces this beautifully, and the movie is full of small pleasures both visual (widescreen framing that makes geometric use of the rail yards and rooftops of Warsaw) and aural (a spare soundtrack with jarring cuts between noise and quiet). I once swore I’d never sit through another Catholic-themed mob movie, but just when I think I’m out they pull me back in. In Polish with subtitles.
NR • 1 hour 26 min • 2010