Polish Cinema: Prime Time (Jakub Piatek, 2021, Poland)

Prime Time is the first feature film by Jakub Piatek, a young Polish director who up until this point has directed shorts and documentaries. The script is a collaboration with Lukasz Czapski, another young writer who has primarily worked on television series. The film takes place in Poland on New Year's Eve in 1999 - the dawn of the new millennium. A young man enters a TV studio armed with a gun and takes two hostages - the presenter of a contest, Mira (played by Magdalena Poplawska, perhaps best known for her role in the 2017 comedy Panic Attack) and a security guard named Grzegorz. Our young hostage-taker, Sebastian, is played Bartosz Bielenia, best known for his breakout role in Jan Komasa's Corpus Christi (2019). 

The film starts promisingly enough, with a good amount of tension. The expectation is for the film to play out like a high-stakes thriller, and many of the elements are there, including a bomb threat and a hostage negotiator. Strangely the film begins to deflate after the first half-hour or so. While the film is reasonably entertaining throughout, Piatek has difficulty sustaining tension. This becomes more apparent as the film progresses, its 90-minute runtime feeling much longer than it should.

One of the main issues with the film is that Sebastian's motivation is never made explicit. One could argue that the choice to leave his intentions obscure is the entire point of the film. However, this ultimately leaves the film feeling somewhat unfinished. I suspected that the film was going to be a standard critique of media culture, attention, and celebrity - but even this analysis is left wanting. Overall, Prime Time might have ultimately worked better as a short film. As a feature, it leaves a lot to be desired, even with a solid cast involved.


5/10

Comments