DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

INNOCENT SORCERERS (NIEWINNI CZARODZIEJE) (director/writer: Andrzej Wajda; screenwriter:  Jerzy Skolimowski/Jerzy Andrzejewski; cinematographer: Krzysztof Winiewicz; editors: Aurelia Rut/ Wieslawa Otocka; music: Krzysztof T Komeda; cast: Tadeusz Lomnicki (Basil/Andrzej), Krystyna Stypulkowska (Pelagia/Magda), Wanda Koczewska (Mirka), Zbigniew Cybulski (Edmund), Krzysztof T Komeda (Komeda), Jerzy Skolimowski (Boxer), Teresa Szmigielowna (Nurse), Roman Polanski (Polo), Kalina Jedrusik (Journalist); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stanislaw Adler; Facets; 1960-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

"I never warmed up to the would-be lovers and their ironical problem of what to do on a one-night stand if you fall in love but are too cool to tell the other your true feelings."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Noted Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda ("The Promised Land"/"Man of Iron"/"Katyn") switches gears from his sobering wartime trilogy (Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds and A Generation) to go stylishly New Wave light, in this b/w shot cynical post-war sex comedy about the unsettled nature of the Polish contemporary young generation, that I'm afraid is dated to the point it no longer has much currency. Writers Wajda, Jerzy Skolimowski and Jerzy Andrzejewski create two ineffective leads functioning in a bohemian setting, who in the country's new affluence hide their vulnerabilities by acting as if they don't care about anything personal. I never warmed up to the would-be lovers and their ironical problem of what to do on a one-night stand if you fall in love but are too cool to tell the other your true feelings.

Young bachelor Warsaw doctor Andrzej (Tadeusz Lomnicki) is a recent medical school grad, who is the boxing doctor in the city's arena. Andrzej has a tiny apartment centrally located, and a comfortable lifestyle. His hedonist lifestyle results in many women conquests and a carefree swinging life. Andrzej, for no apparent reason, except maybe because she's too easy, dumps his pursuing attractive fashion model girlfriend Mirka (Wanda Koczewska) to go with his fellow aimless young professional friends to their night-time Mannequin Club hangout, where he's a drummer in a jazz band. Andrzej's best friend Ed (Zbigniew Cybulski), after rejected by a pretty club patron (Krystyna Stypulkowska), seemingly out of spite pulls the phony cab bit, whereby Ed tricks the mystery girl's date into riding in his supposed cab without her. The mystery young lady, left alone in the street, is not phased by the turn of events and eagerly goes back to the apartment with the stranger, Andrzej, waiting at the curb. But instead of hopping into bed, they play mind games, play the game 'strip matchbox' (think strip poker), make no attempt to find out any personal information, teasingly call themselves by the aliases Pelagia and Basil, and gab all night in drivel that they deem to be intelligent chatter. When Andrzej's wasted male friends return at 5:30 in the morning, making a racket outside his apartment window, he leaves the sleeping Pelagia and joins them. When Andrzej returns at 7:30 AM, she's gone and he realizes he felt something for the bright girl and in a panic he unsuccessfully tries to locate her while on his scooter riding through the big city. This time upon his return Andrzej finds the dream girl drinking tea in his kitchen, but he still can't express his feelings for her and when he nods out she gives up hope if he will ever commit to a long-term relationship and splits without any word on how to contact her in the future.

The 'innocent sorcerers,' in all probability meant to be taken for amateur seekers of magical potions for their ills of loneliness, alienation and urban angst, relate to each other by always playing mind games. During Pelagia's all-night visit, she tells our dissolute doctor "a game stops being amusing when it is only a game."

Future celebrity filmmaker Roman Polanski has a bit part playing the cello in our hero's jazz band. Jerzy Skolimowski, the pic's co-writer and a future director of merit, has a cameo as a boxer examined by our hero.

REVIEWED ON 1/24/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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