Polish Cinema: Edi (Piotr Trzaskalski, 2002, Poland)

Edi is a moving if somewhat sentimental effort from director Piotr Trzaskalski. The film was Poland's submission at the 75th Academy Awards but wasn't nominated. Trzaskalski is from the industrial city of Lodz, and his film takes place there. Lodz figures almost as a character in Edi, as the film tells the story of two men living on the fringes of Polish society in this society. The two men are the titular Edi (played by the very distinct-looking Henryk Golebiewski) and Jureczek (played by Jacek Braciak). 

Edi and Jureczek are scrap pickers, and their dynamic is similar to that of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Edi, despite his impoverished living situation, is an intellectual who can quote lines of famous literature. He keeps a book collection nearby. Jureczek is unimpressed with Edi's intellectualism. Jureczek is intellectually disabled, and the dynamic between the two men is one of the more interesting aspects of the film. 

Less interesting is the film's main plot point, which involves Edi being falsely accused of impregnating a local gangster's sister. This results in his castration by the gangsters and exile to the country. Ultimately this plot point is a bit hard to believe, but Edi's exile to the countryside in the third act is one of the better aspects of the film. The contrast between the hard urban life of Lodz and the return to the countryside presents an interesting contrast. Edi begins taking care of the child who he believes to be his own, although, in the film's final reveal, we learn that the child was fathered by the sister's boyfriend. This is not all that surprising, but it does result in a moving finale. Overall, Edi is a worthwhile if somewhat sentimental effort at Polish arthouse cinema, with some great performances.


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