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Jan Kidawa-Blonski uses archival establishing shots from Communist Poland to set the visual tone for Little Rose, his drama set against the backdrop of the Warsaw regime’s anti-Semitic 1960s campaign against intellectuals. Unfortunately, the film’s rendering of a totalitarian country’s moral rot feels about as nuanced as something out of the Soviet era might have been. The melodrama picks up with intelligence man Roman (Robert Wieckiewicz) convincing his uneducated girlfriend Kamila (Magdalena Boczarska) to romance a public intellectual whom the authorities are seeking to discredit. The bookish widower, naturally, falls for the younger blonde, and before long she has fallen right back, thanks in large part to the good professor having opened her mind to great books, French wine, and the fact that she’s been manipulated all her life by brutish people serving a brutish government. Of course, it’s hard to believe sweet-natured and apolitical Kamila would swoon for thuggish Roman, and harder still to imagine that the dissident professor who begins the film as her mark would fail to see an unabashed honey trap unfolding. Then again, viewers are also expected not to see a couple of fairly obvious later plot twists—could you imagine that intelligence dudes have hidden secrets, too?—heading their way. To its credit, Little Rose comes to a conclusion that is appropriately gloomy, and manages to cast its moral censure farther around Polish society than most soap-operatic morality tales would. It’s just a pity that Kamila’s bad-guy lover and her good-guy soulmate are such implausible characters.
At 9 p.m.; also on Saturday, April 9 at 9 p.m. Both showings at E Street Cinema.