Czesc Tereska is a disturbing but hollow depiction.
This Polish kitchen sink film, shot in grainy black and white, is a grim portrait of a young girl who is robbed of the hope of redemption by the violence and emotional bleakness of life in her working class neighborhood. It's a skillfully executed film. The stark cinematography emphasizes the grimy day to day existence that confronts the young protagonist. Actress Aleksandra Gietner's portrayal of the teenage Tereska's fall from grace is impeccable and moving. However, Czesc Tereska is a genre film which has its counterparts in just about every country's cinematic repertory. We've already seen numerous depictions of violence in the slums, drunken, unemployed, physically abusive fathers, sexually voracious peers, dehumanizing educational systems. We've seen how young people self-destruct under the insurmountable accumulating burden of these elements. Czesc Tereska, however poignant, fails to contribute any new insights into the familiar, dreadful progression from purity and hopefulness to depravity and destruction. More troubling is the device that director/writer Robert Glinski inserts into his story in the character of Edek, the paraplegic who lusts after Tereska and becomes her victim. Actor Zbigniew Zamachowski turns in a typically masterful performance in this role, but the interactions between the depraved cripple and the pubescent Tereska somehow remain outside the organic development of the narrative. The lack of clear motivation in the evolution of this perverse relationship makes suspect its violent culmination, and the device which may have been intended to differentiate Czesc Tereska from its multiple cinematic counterparts ultimately causes an otherwise disturbingly realistic depiction to ring hollow.
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