Polish Cinema: To ja, zlodziej (Jacek Bromski, 2000, Poland/South Africa)

To ja, zlodziej (It's Me, the Thief) is yet another entry in the series of crime comedies that graced Polish cinemas throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. While To ja is certainly not as well known as Kiler and Boys Don't Cry, it is nevertheless interesting in that it was an international collaboration between several Polish entities (Canal+ Polska, Telewizja Polska, Vision Films) and South African broadcaster M-Net. It's also notable for featuring a turn from two legendary Polish actors - Janusz Gajos, who started his career on the great 1960s wartime series Czterej pancerni i pies and has continued his success up to the recent sensation Kler - as well as Daniel Olbrychski, who has perhaps appeared in more essential Polish films than any other actor.   

The plot of To ja, zlodziej is not particularly complex. As with many Polish crime films of this era, it involves German cars and auto theft. The story focuses on two boys - 16-year-old Piotrek and 11-year old Franek. Both Warsavians, the boys' family lives are less than ideal. Piotrek works as a mechanic in a car shop and has a great talent for electronics. He becomes embroiled in a local car theft ring, eventually stealing the car of a composer named Seweryn (played by Olbrychski) to impress a famous car thief named Maks (Maciej Kozlowski). 

As expected, things get out of hand. The performances of the two young men are decent, and the film is accompanied by a musical score by the exceptionally popular Polish blues band Dzem. Overall, To ja, zlodziej feels a bit dated and does not have the level of humor that carried other films of this era such as Kiler and Boys Don't Cry. Still, it is watchable and worth seeing to get a glimpse of street life in Warsaw around this time.


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