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Leon Okrasa (Artur Steranko), the shy, lonely protagonist of Four Nights with Anna, is a Humbert Humbert for the hick set. A half-wit who speaks in a barely audible mumble, Leon morphs from a simpleton into a psycho in the film’s first 10 minutes, as viewers watch him purchase an ax, pull a severed hand from a vat, and follow a dead cow floating downstream, all before telling his grandmother, “I’ve met a woman, just like you wanted!” The catch is that his grandmother is dead and the woman in question isn’t aware of their relationship. Leon kicks off the one-sided affair by drugging Anna (Kinga Preis) and entering her apartment through a window. Leon proceeds to mend her clothes, paint her toenails, and fix her clock. Flash-forward to the police interrogation of Leon, during which it’s revealed that this might not be his first offense. In the hands of a torture-porn hack, Leon would be just another psycho, but famed Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s deliberate and precise storytelling reveals a weirdo who is both disturbing and sweet: The film’s biggest surprise is that the by the film’s end, Skolimowski manages to rouse an eery empathy for the luckless and creepy Leon.
Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Also at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. Both showings at Regal Gallery Place.