Loving (12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival) Review

Tomek (Marcin Dorociński) and Maria (Julia Kijowska) are married, and Maria is heavily pregnant. She works for the town mayor, Adam (Adam Woronowicz), who openly flirts with her, both in person and by email and text. Tomek finds these when he uses her computer. That's as far as it goes, Maria thinks, but his intentions are more serious. One day, Adam comes round to her house and, after an altercation, rapes her. She says nothing, partly because of his position of authority over her and partly because there is no way of proving she didn't consent – and those texts and emails would give the wrong impression. Then Tomek finds out what happened...

In different hands, Loving (Miłość), inspired by a true event, could be a thriller or revenge drama, but director Sławomir Fabicki (also, with Marek Pruchniewski, the film's writer), in his second feature, takes it in a different direction. Instead, he concentrates on his two lead characters, the story being how they work out their previously rock-solid and now under threat relationship in the face of this trauma, and the changes in their lives brought about by the birth of their daughter (who arrives about a third of the way through the running time) and the stress and lack of sleep that entails. For a while they break up and Tomek begins a sexual relationship with another woman...but can what they had be repaired? Fabicki's treatment of the story is low-key and better for its restraint: the rape scene, for example, is discreetly shown, with a door blocking most of it, but still disturbing to watch. Loving is a film as much for its two lead actors as for its co-writer/director, but it's impressive for its lack of undue histrionics. In the end, this is a love story, hence the title, a story of love under test, and a moving one.

Loving played in London at the 12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival. At the time of writing, UK distribution is unconfirmed.



out of 10

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