The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - I NEVER CRY | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - I NEVER CRY

i never cry review
A Polish teen travels to Dublin to collect her estranged father's body.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Piotr Domalewski

Starring: Zofia Stafiej, Kinga Preis, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Dawid Tulej, Tomasz ZięTek

i never cry poster

On the 1st of May 2004, Poland joined the European Union. As a particular victim of the global economic depression, in the ensuing years the country saw a mass emigration of around two million Polish nationals, with the migrant Polski looking abroad for a better standard of living. This was chiefly found within the handful of member states which allowed new EU citizens to work immediately without restriction within its borders. The UK was one of the member states, and Ireland, where writer/director Piotr Domalewski’s I Never Cry is set, is another.

i never cry review

What quantitative research, which reduces people to (exploitable) numbers, cannot reveal, however, is the individual circumstance of each migrant; mainly men who had left the homeland in order to fulfil manual labour roles in more prosperous member states. Poland is ideologically conservative, and families there often conform to venerable gender roles. A large portion of the fellas who hit the trail did so in order to provide for their loved ones back in Polska, an unideal situation which gives I Never Cry its central premise.

We are first introduced to key character Olka (Zofia Stafiej - amazing) during her driving test. 17-year-old Olka is a proper little firebrand: swerving to avoid another driver’s mistake she fails her test, and ends up getting into a fight which sees her instructor decked and the careless driver’s number plate being booted off his car. Thing is, driving, as a neat metaphor for escape from the grey drudgery of urban living (I Never Cry was filmed irl in rather pretty Olsztyn, but this film will do nothing for the Polish tourist board), is very important to the alienated teen. She works in a second-hand dealership, scrubbing down cars to save up for one herself: a bleak task only enlivened by power spraying colleagues. Home is grim, too, with Olka’s mum’s hands full looking after her severely disabled son. She also does not speak English, which leaves it to Olka to take the phone call from Dublin informing the clan that their paterfamilias has died in an industrial accident.

i never cry review

Due to the situation at home, responsibility again falls to Olka, this time to travel to Dublin as her father’s executor. What follows is a slightly shapeless bildungsroman wherein Olka comes up against a picaresque gallery of characters whose lives and destinies have been affected by free movement. Olka herself wrestles with understanding the father she never really knew (she cannot identify the body and doesn’t even know her pop’s middle name), and whether to spend his estate on the car he promised her, or a funeral. We meet his Polish co-workers, a pervy hairdresser who takes advantage of the immigrant women working for him, and a kindly Polish lawyer who has made a new life for his family. Interestingly, it is only via this character where the film makes pointed intimations towards the concept of integration: when Olka asks why the lawyer speaks to his young son in English, he explains he wants the kid to have it as his first language. The rest of the bunch - the exploited women, the male co-workers living together and playing video games - are presented as separate, liminal within the country where they have settled.

i never cry review

I Never Cry never really explores these ideas and stories, however. Instead, the film follows in the footsteps of its hyperactive, mercurial main character, lurching from one misadventure to the next, and, while always fun to watch, never fully self-actualises.

I Never Cry is in UK/ROI cinemas from July 23rd.

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