This is a pretty bleak and
at times disturbing look at post communist Polish society. The
movie tells the story of a rural Polish family moving to the big city
to find a better life. There is Grzegorz, the older brother who
moves into a rundown apartment building with his brother Bronek who
suffers from some mental handicaps. Grzegorz falls in with a banker
who is also looking for a better life and hopes to achieve it by robbing
the bank that he works at. He likes Grzegorz so he offers to split
the take with him. Grzegorz recruits a couple of his friends and
gets himself a gun (just for appearances). While this is going
on Grzegorz’s mother and sister arrive in the city and are put up
by the sister’s fiancé, an older man who is a successful politician,
in a nice apartment. The movie also hints at a special relationship
between Grzegorz and his sister that goes a bit further than brother
and sister should be. The day of the robbery comes and when they
arrive the bank manager tells them that it is off. Before Grzegorz
can leave one of his friends gets out of control and ends up killing
the bank manager, a teller, and a couple of innocent bystanders.
The police end up catching them pretty quickly and all three end up
in prison for the rest of their lives. Grzegorz’s sister breaks
up with her fiancé to protect him and goes with her mother to live
near the prison so that the family can still be together.
I actually had to watch this
movie a couple of times before I could review it. This is a very
depressing movie that is populated by down on their luck characters
that are for the most part worse off at the end of the movie that they
were at the start. The world portrayed at in Crossroads Café
is filled with damaged characters living in a shitty world filled with
violence, incest (hinted at), child prostitution, and generally just
a sense of hopelessness. It is a real downer of a movie.
That being said the cast does an excellent job with the material.
Robert Olech as the lead character Grzgorz does a wonderful job in his
role. His character is central to the story and is required to
carry much of the movie.
I did have a couple of issues
with the movie. The movie is very slow and takes forever to get
to the crime and it’s aftermath. That added to the overall depressing
nature of the movie makes Crossroads Café the kind of movie you will
watch once and sit on the shelf. Also the movie uses a very strange
device to narrate the movie. The film starts off with a rapper
entering what we find out later to be the prison to perform for the
inmates. From that point on the movie is narrated with rap music.
This either doesn’t translate well from the original Polish (reading
rap lyrics that have been translated kind of sucks!) or the music itself
isn’t very good. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not a fan
of rap music. Still this seems like a very strange way to deal
with what is in all other ways a very serious movie.
Crossroads Café is a very
powerful movie that has something to say about the world. It isn’t
the kind of movie that you will want so watch repeatedly and it does
have it’s flaws. But if you get a chance to either rent it or
catch it at a film festival or convention do so. It is worth seeing
at least once.
Rating - **1/2
-John "El Juan" Shatzer