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Given Poland’s nationalist turn under Andrzej Duda, you have to wonder about which audience this doughty but slightly self-pitying second world war spy thriller is meant to serve. Philippe Tłokiński stars as Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, emissary of the Polish government in exile in London struggling to make his way back across Europe to a Warsaw resistance caught between a Nazi rock and a Soviet hard place. The film has a taste for defiant proclamations – “Giving up for the first time in our history will surely break the spirit of this nation!” – that you imagine will put a spring in the step of the new breed of Polish EU-shin-kickers.
Having said that, Władysław Pasikowski – a crowdpleasing film-maker with a string of domestic hits – relays Poland’s darkest hour with enough nuance and peril to stop Kurier from being outright jingoism. His fluid direction ensures Nowak-Jeziorański’s infiltration – via a parachute drop from Brindisi, with a couple of SS-dodging set pieces en route – never shirks taut genre requirements. But the realpolitik hoops he must jump through en route are equally arresting. Nowak-Jeziorański’s journey, in order not to jeopardise British-Soviet relations, has to remain so clandestine that the resistance leader, Bór-Komorowski, initially refuses to see him. Once he is through the door, he has to persuade the rebels to disobey their historical instincts and buddy up with a Soviet war machine already sizing the country up.
Perhaps Nowak-Jeziorański is such a prominent war hero in Poland that Pasikowski didn’t think it was necessary to spend much time on his inner character. Beyond a certain klutziness – he doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle when told to escape on one – there isn’t much to break Tłokiński’s indomitable facade, or any clue as to which powers his dogged drive. Kurier, though, has a confident, committed sweep; enough to suggest that Pasikowski could capably expand his canvas to war stories outside the Polish purview.
Source: The Guardian
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