Sunday, April 2, 2023

Johnny, a touching story from Poland

This is a first for me, a Polish film review.  A brief description of "Johnny" (2022) might lead to a quick dismissal, but I hasten to add that it really is very touching.  The brief description might run like this--it is about a priest and a criminal who are involved with a hospice, where people are sent to die.  We don't like to think about dying, but the priest is very consciously trying to make their last moment meaningful and his general philosophy is that time is very precious.

 In reality this is based on the life of Father Jan Kaczkowski who died in 2016.  At the end credits we see the actual Father enjoying life, including dancing, drinking and laughing.  We also see the former criminal Patryk with his new wife and children.   Available on Netflix.

Near the beginning we are introduced to Father Jan (who lets himself be called Johnny) where soon he is given responsibility for a hospice .  He learns he has glioblastoma with probably only half a year to live, We soon meet Patryk as a rowdy fighting young man.  He is a drug addict and thief and owes a lot of money to a loan shark.  He is given a sentence of 360 hours of communal service at the hospice under the guidance of Father Jan.

Father Jan is a very forgiving person, but also patient and thoughtful,  Patryk is resistant and also uncomfortable dealing with dying people.  Father Jan encourages him to change.

Gradually Patryk comes around and is even seen helping a dying woman leave a video message for her son.  Later he gets carried away and kidnaps a son to bring to his dying father in hopes of reconciliation, but that doesn't work out.  Somehow a female staff befriends him and they develop a relationship.

Father Jan dies after deteriorating, but his legacy has carried on better than some might have expected.

The film has won a few awards.  The cast and crew are noteworthy.

Director was Daniel Jaroszek who won awards for this film.  Altogether he has 6 film credits as director.

Maciej Kraszewski wrote the script.  He has 6 film credits as a writer and has done some directing.

Robert Kijak was the producer with 23 film credits.  He won a best film award for this film.

Michal Kush composed the music.  He has 121 film credits.

Michal Dabal was the cinematographer  He has over 25 film credits including "Munich" (2015), Blind((2016)

Maciej Kozlowski was the  editor with 10 film credits.

Dawid Ogrodnik played Father Jan Kaczkowski as a patient man slowly deteriorating.   He has 41 film credits including "Ida" (2013).  Has won international awards and for this one.

Piotr Trojan played Patryk, the addicted thief.  He had 47 film credits.

They say people don't change.  That is not always true and this is a good encouraging example.

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.  Admittedly my experience with Polish films has been very limited, but this film has encouraged me to keep my eye out.

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