Traffic Department (12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival) Review
Traffic Department (Drogówka) was the biggest-grossing Polish film of 2013 at the local box office. How well it will translate abroad is a good question, as it has at the time of writing no UK release on either the big screen or on DVD. It no doubt falls into the gap between commercial cinema and arthouse, thereby lacking an obvious audience to pitch to outside its native country. Also, its subject matter is not unfamiliar, only the Warsaw setting making a difference.
Wojciech Smarzowski – billed here as Wojtek Smarzowski – has only had one previous film given a UK release, his 2004 big0screen debut The Wedding (Wesele). His The Dark House (Dom zly) dealt with the Martial Law era and Rose (Róza) with the years after World War II. Traffic Department brings us right up to date, dealing with the antics of a group of corrupt traffic cops in present-day Warsaw, not averse to taking bribes, drinks or after-work visits to brothels. Petrycki (Arkadiusz Jakubik) is a persistent womaniser and Banaś (Eryk Lubos) is a racist, but their superiors turn a blind eye as long as they don't get caught and internal investigations don't turn over too many stones, such as Król (Bartłomiej Topa) being framed for the murder of a colleague who was sleeping with his wife. As an ensemble piece, it's fairly episodic, varying from comedy to pathos with everything in between, including a memorably gross setpiece late on involving a car suddenly stopping while a cop gets a blow job in the back seat. It's very cynical, and also very laddish, despite the presence of the squad's one female member (Julia Kijowska). Many of the other women in the film are prostitutes and strippers. And at a shade under two hours, it's definitely overlong and works in fits and starts. But given the film's considerable domestic success, maybe it's a case of comedy not travelling well across national borders.
Traffic Department played in the 12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London. A UK commercial release is to be advised