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Sztuczki (2007)

Six-year-old Stefek challenges fate. He believes that setting a chain of events in motion will help him get closer to his father who left his mother. His sister helps him bribe fate with ... See full summary »

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20 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Damian Ul ...
Ewelina Walendziak ...
...
Rafal Guzniczak ...
Jerzy
Iwona Fornalczyk ...
Mother of Stefek and Elka
Joanna Liszowska ...
Andrzej Golejewski ...
Homless
...
Turek
Simeone Matarelli ...
Leone
Krzysztof Lawniczak ...
Trunck man
Roman Baranowicz ...
Pigiel
...
Girl from bar (as Katarzyna Koleczek)
Dorota Wierzbicka-Matarelli ...
Espedientka sprzatajaca
Krystyna Dmochowska ...
Ekspedientka 'Królowa'
Maciej Stepniak ...
Zbyszek
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Storyline

Six-year-old Stefek challenges fate. He believes that setting a chain of events in motion will help him get closer to his father who left his mother. His sister helps him bribe fate with small sacrifices. Tricks and coincidences bring his father back but things go wrong and Stefek tries a very risky trick... Written by Anonymous

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Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

26 October 2007 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Tricks  »

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1.85 : 1
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May fate bring you to Tricks
31 August 2009 | by See all my reviews

"Judge by the engine, not by the mirror or radio" a driver advises another of his car, in this enchanting comedy drama with deep undercurrents. It's a maxim that might equally be applied to Tricks, a film whose well-crafted side-attractions (Tomasz Gassowski's dazzling score, and a rich painterly aesthetic) could divert attention from the finely-tuned engine of the story, ticking away softly in the background as it carries us quietly to our destination.

Precocious six-year-old Stefek (Damian Ul) lives with his adored teenage sister Elka (Ewelina Walendziak) and his rarely seen, shop-bound mother (Iwona Fornalczyk) in a sleepy post-Communist town just outside Warsaw. With no friends of his own age, life for Stefak revolves around playing with his tin soldiers on the railway tracks, cadging motorbike rides from his sister's car mechanic boyfriend Jerzy (Rafal Guzniczak), and attempting to discover the precise combination of factors that makes his neighbour's doves fly their coop on a given signal.

One day, Stefek spots a commuter at the station changing trains whom he convinces himself is their estranged father (Tomasz Sapryk). Although he abandoned his mother when Stefek was just a baby ("trapped by a woman" says Elka), he is able to recognise him from a crumpled and almost completely defaced photograph he carries in his wallet. Though Elka reacts dismissively to his plans, Stefek aims to reunite his parents ("can we reclaim him?") through a game or 'trick' his sister has taught him. As he tells Jerzy, "Careful with her, she knows tricks. She just won't admit it." The trick, which Elka demonstrates in a couple of wonderful vignettes, involves 'bribing' fate - influencing fortune without lifting a finger. All you have to do is announce your intentions to the universe, then sit back while the universe does the job for you. Stefek, however, reckons fate could do with a little shove, and through an ingenious scheme sets out to divert his father off the train platform and straight into his mother's grocery shop.

"Nothing is happening" Stefek glumly tells Elka, after his elaborate plans, involving his tin soldiers, a handful of coins and a flock of doves, seem to have come to nought. Ah, but there always is, his wiser sister replies. "Don't you feel the ground tremble?" It is this sense of something momentous coming, like a train down the tracks, that propels the award-winning Tricks, only the second feature after 2002's 'Zmruz Oczy' ('Squint Your Eyes') for philosophy graduate Andrzej Jakimowski, though it already feels like the work of a more seasoned director.

Indebted to both neo-realist Italian cinema and a gently spellbinding magic realism, Tricks richly succeeds in portraying life from an imaginative child's perspective, in which the most ordinary of objects and places take on an enchanted significance; Fredric Jameson's "poetic transformation of the object world". The importance of local community, and the role it plays in shaping affairs, is often central to the magic realist tradition, and here, Adam Bajerski's lush, golden-hued photography brings Stefan and Elkas's otherwise dingy, working-class mining town to vivid life, with its diverse population of street-sellers, village "sluts" and bird fanciers. Among a cast of non-professional actors, little Damian Ul is terrific as the pugnacious, single-minded Stefek, and Ewelina Walendziak just as good as his slyly practical sister, not long out of girlhood herself but increasingly burdened by adult responsibilities and difficult choices. Their relationship, based on the director's own when he was growing up, feels utterly authentic. In fact, as the opening titles state, the film is dedicated to "my sister, who made me sit on top of the wardrobe".


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