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The Polish cinema industry likes churning out gangster movies, rather like our own film business in the Uncool Britannia era of the late 90s/early noughties. This looks like a ripe example. It is laborious and self-important, solemnly claiming to be based on a genuine case but with the names changed.
Well, there is a vague ring of truth about one detail about stolen artefacts from the Museum of Cairo turning up in the flashy houses of wealthy Europeans. But, really, what this film is “based on” is half-remembered riffs from Scorsese, Coppola and maybe even the geezer fantasies of Guy Ritchie, with its guys smirking, fighting and copping blowjobs from disposable and submissive young women. There are also many music-video-style montages of tattooed, shaven-headed gym bunnies giving or receiving beatings.
The setting is Warsaw, where the young unnamed gangster begins his slow climb to the top; he is played by Martin Kowalczyk, with a close-trimmed beard and pop-eyed stare that makes him look a young, disapproving F Murray Abraham. We begin with him providing prostitutes to visiting Saudi Arabians, and then he makes his career pivot to armed robberies and drug-distribution, getting married to the gorgeous, classy Magda (Natalia Szroeder), who is presented to us as an obvious cut above the hatchet-faced slatterns that populate the rest of the film.
The gangster’s number two is a coke-addled, unreliable guy nicknamed Walden (Tomasz Wlosok), and our hero finally attempts to negotiate a transition to big-league status by dealing with uber-mobster Daniel (Jan Frycz). There’s something dire about these joyless, inanimate cliches.
• How I Became a Gangster. True Story is released in the UK on 31 January.
Source: The Guardian
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