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Pawel, a Polish man in his early 30s, makes a living with his father Zygmunt importing second-hand clothing from the North of France to Southern Poland. On his way back from one of regular "business trips", Pawel is shocked to discover his father's picture on the cover of a Polish tabloid newspaper. The headline "traitor" is written next to his name. Zygmunt is a genuine hero of the struggle against totalitarianism and a recognized member of the "Solidarnosc" labor movement of the 80s. But now, Zygmunt is suddenly accused by the paper of having acted as a secret informer called THE MOLE by the communist regime. Written by
Polish cinema seems unable to entirely reconcile itself with communism, still so deeply embroiled in uncovering the past, understanding it and trying to grasp the wider reaching effects it had on the Polish society of past and present. Now a new era of filmmakers has entered the scene, but still they seem entirely fixated on what was, albeit now offering a different perspective: attempting to understand the previous generation
your own parents and how they coped with the repressive system. This
offers a less nostalgic and/or accusatory stance, more inclined into uncovering the evils inherent to the system, that enslaved an entire country.
"Mole" tackles the issue in exactly such a manner. Twenty years after the fall of communism, Zygmunt Kowal (Marian Dziedziel) and his son Paweł (Borys Szyc) jointly have a small business of used clothes importing from France. Paweł, already father to one dear boy, now is expecting his family to grow with his spouse Ewa (Magdalena Czerwinska) pregnant. Lacking enough funds the couple still lives with Zygmunt, a widow ever since his wife died not long after giving birth to her sole child. Both Paweł's and Ewa's fathers were movement legends, one of the local activists that participated in the Solidarity struggle, albeit only one survived to see democracy. This romantic vision of Zygmunt as a freedom fighter suddenly starts to crumble, when local newspapers accuse Zygmunt of being a mole to the secret services. Zygmunt remains elusive on the subject, ultimately deciding to join his cousin in France, instead of facing the charges.
The pretence itself brings about an enthralling host of possibilities, dramatically seemingly similar to accusations thrown at Lech Wałęsa not so long ago, offering a potential to uncover some hard truths about the grayish hue of the struggle. First-time director attempts to do just that, crafting confrontations between Zygmunt and the society that once held him in high regard, as well as having Paweł swallow a possibility that his father is not a crystal clear as he would have liked to believe.
When newcomer Rafal Lewandowski falters is in the storytelling, especially with regards to the flashback sequences, which seem pasted on from poorly executed television movies, not a quality wide screen production. Nonetheless other aspects also grind, making it for the most part seem like a mediocre TV movie, instead of a full-fledged feature. Dramatic constructions unhinge the movie integrity, and although certain scenes are truly successful, such as Zygmunt meeting the unanimous adoration of French emigrants, the overall plotting and logical inconsistencies leaves much to be desired. Add to this a general below-par performance by most of the cast, who struggle to instill a sense of credible emotionality to proceedings. This is despite a well-designed intriguing concept that ultimately leads to a satisfying, if disturbing, dramatic closure.
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