Tricks (Sztuczki)

April 26, 2008

Tricks had a limited showing in Cineworld for the Polish Film Festival and I must say that I’m glad I caught it. I haven’t seen many Polish films other than Kieslowski’s but I have always enjoyed any that I have seen- there seems to be some representation from the Lodz film school in every film as well which is usually fairly evident in the cinematography. The story for this film follows on what seems like the countries pastime of observing peoples lives and how fate and chance have a roll in it.

In looking for links I also came across a Polish Film Club based in Dublin and there was a link there for the official site for the film- in Polish of course but click away since it has excellent content and you can see some clips of the film. There is also a very good document with a synopsis and the meanings behind the film here and an interview with the director here.

The film itself is a simple story of chance, luck, and fate with the main characters being a brother and sister. Above all though the film is about the tricks that the brother uses to manipulate those three things to his desired outcome- getting his father back. Semi-autobiographical from what the blurbs say and there is quite a cute dedication at the beginning of the film- For my sister who put me on top of wardrobes. At the beginning of the film it is hard to tell when this film is and I wasn’t sure if it was a post communist lingering in the background or just that fact that it is in a depressed area (from the reading afterwards it is a mining town but this is not obvious in the film)

The acting is quite amazing from the brother and sister- the brother is quite young and for his age he gives a stellar performance. The sister is quite good as well and she has a great presence. Great supporting cast as well with the sisters boy-friend and father having a standout performances.

There is a lot of humour in the film and it is done extremely well- the routine the brother has to get the pigeons out of the coop, the neighbour who is less-than-saintly and the fight with her mother, the only picture of the father with holes in eyes and scribbled on, the brother having to accompany the sister everywhere, the brother taking over the sisters boy friends time, the talk in the car with the boyfriend and another guy about women and cars, and finally the brother using sticks to look at things…including up the legs of the neighbour.

Some small scenes could have been edited a small bit but over all finely knit story. The ending may be what you are expecting but the it doesn’t follow the path that you expect…the meanderings of the story are just superb though and you will be left remembering all the little tricks that the brother does do manipulate the events- the crossed fingers, the coins, the pigeons and the toy soldiers.

The cinematography at times is very good- lingering shots of faces and limbs which really accent the story. There are a few motion shots however that are not well done and out of focus which is slightly distracting.

Just as a final thought- is there some Polish tradition about glass bottles? Kieslowski had the older woman trying to recycle one over three films and here it is the older man with the wagon full of glass bottles that plays a small part in the story.



  1. I think, no, I KNOW, that this a WONDERFUL film.

    Many of us who viewed it at the Miami Film Festival agree with me.

    I would hope the film can/will be shown commercially in the US.

    I believe the boy and his sister (and the director) should be/will be! stars.

  2. Hopefully it will get a general release in the States- it hasn’t quite achieved that here but at least it has come back for a run in the new Lighthouse Cinema!

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