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Review: Tricks – Sztuczky (2007)

Directed by: | 95 minutes | drama | Actors: , , , Rafal Guzniczak, Iwona Fornalczyk, , , , , Krzysztof Lawniczak, , , , Dariusz Bronowicki, , , , , Kipiel-Sztuka

In ‘Tricks’ we experience a long hot summer in a Polish provincial town. We follow six-year-old Stefek and his eighteen-year-old sister Élka, young people each with their own concerns and desires. Stefek wants nothing more than a real father around her, Élka doesn’t really know what she wants: a quiet life with car mechanic Jerzy or a flashy career at the local branch of an Italian company. Brother and sister spend long days in parks and at the picturesque station, where they often do nothing more than observe.

Despite the minimal plot, ‘Tricks’ turns out to be an exciting arthouse . This has partly to do with the that siblings have. Both live in their own world, and by following their daily routine we slowly get to know that world. By following Stefek’s gaze, often with the camera at child height, we see what he sees and experience his amazement at railway signals, market traders and adults sunbathing.

Equally amusing is the assortment of tricks (the ‘tricks’ from the title) that runs like a thread through the film. Stefek tries again and again to let the pigeons of the local pigeon fancier fly away from their loft. The trick he devises for this is as ingenious as it is humorous. But sister Élka is also a master of tricks, although hers are much more practical and never based on magic.

The most important quality of ‘Tricks’ is the way in which the non-professional actors give shape to their characters. Stefek, Élka and her friend Jerzy are captivating characters, portrayed lifelike by the actors. Brother and sister are even physically alike, with their stubbornly protruding lower lips and sullen look. From the first minute you become attached to those characters, and you like nothing more than to watch their faces suggest a world of thoughts and ideas.

For example, ‘Tricks’ is one of those rare films that cannot last long enough. After sharing joys and sorrows with brother and sister for an hour and a half, it is hard to say goodbye. It is therefore not surprising that the good-humored, humorous, nostalgic and accessible ‘Tricks’ was a big hit in homeland Poland. This special film about ordinary people should not let any Arthurian enthusiast walk away. You also get a useful lecture about women and cars.

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