Anatomy of Evil (Anatomia zła) (14th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival) Review
Stasiek (Marcin Kowalczyk) is a sniper, returned home from Afganistan on a manslaughter charge, which he believes was set up to blame him for a failed mission. Karol, nicknamed Lulek (Krzysztof Stroiński), is a contract killer in his sixties, released on parole. Lulek is clearly not someone to cross, as he's capable of casually shooting a woman who lets slip that she knows he was in prison rather than spending time in America, as he claimed. Another man gets a bullet in the head by simpling being in the wrong place – a lift – at the wrong time. He's approached by Nowak (Piotr Głowacki), the prosecutor who put him away, and is hired to carry out the assassination of the head of the Central Investigation Bureau in return for a clean record and a chance to leave the country. Lulek approaches Stasiek, claiming to be a counterintelligence agent hiring him for a special mission. But Stasiek has his suspicions as to what is really going on...
Anatomy of Evil (Anatomia zła) is latterday film noir, with a commanding performance from Stroiński which won him the Best Actor Award at the 2015 Gdynia Film Festival, shared by Janusz Gajos from Body (the Gdynia Best Film winner, and also showing in the Kinoteka Festival). Marcin Kowalczyk, bearded here, was quite chilling in Hardkor Disko (shown at last year's Kinoteka Festival and still without a UK commercial release): he's less so here, though that film, this and his performance as rapper Magik in You Are God show his versatility. The film begins and ends with him. It's a very male story, with the women mainly victims or prostitutes. Michalina Olszańska, as Stasiek's girlfriend Halina, can't do much with a role that's basically written as a standard-issue tart with a heart, and the plot's links of politics with organised crime are a little too obvious. And at a shade over two hours, Jacek Bromski's film isn't as tight as it perhaps should be.
Anatomy of Evil shows on 8 April at 6.30pm at the Regent Street Cinema, London, as part of the 14th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival. Further UK showings and distribution to be confirmed.