Six-year-old Stefek challenges fate. He believes that setting a chain of events in motion will help him get closer to his father who left his mother. His sister helps him bribe fate with ...
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Six-year-old Stefek challenges fate. He believes that setting a chain of events in motion will help him get closer to his father who left his mother. His sister helps him bribe fate with small sacrifices. Tricks and coincidences bring his father back but things go wrong and Stefek tries a very risky trick...Written by
One of those rare films that you wish would never end.
Stefek (Damian UI) is a bright and very observant six-year-old boy who lives with his teenage sister Elka (Ewelina Walendziak) and their mother (Iwona Fornalczyk) in a Polish village outside of Warsaw. Stefan has never seen his father (Tomasz Sapryk) who abandoned the family before he was born but thinks he recognizes him from a defaced picture in his wallet as the man boards a train each morning. Andrzej Jakimowski's Tricks is one of those rare films that you wish would never end. Winner of the Europa Cinemas prize at the Venice Film Festival, it is a delightful blend of sensitivity, intelligence, humor, and magical realism that transforms the simple truths of childhood into cinematic poetry.
The title does not refer to "turning tricks", magic shows, or being bamboozled. It is about the idea, not really a trick at all, that so-called fate can be bended to our will and Jakimowski, who studied Philosophy at the University of Warsaw, makes a very convincing case for the power of intention. The film comments on contemporary small town life in Poland as it moves from one vignette to another in an almost documentary-like manner. Elka has taught Stefek how to "bribe" fate, believing that it can be manipulated. All that is necessary, she thinks, is to declare your purpose and sit back and watch the universe comply. Stefek, on the other hand, thinks that you have to take concrete action rather than merely observing.
To prove his point, he crumbles a burger wrapper and throws it neatly into the garbage bin at the park. Elka, however, simply places the wrapper on the ground near the bin and watches as it is passed from the owner of a hungry dog to a homeless man and then into the trash without her doing a thing. In another scene, Stefek comes to the aid of an ignored apple seller by buying some of his apples and hopefully setting an example for others. She tries a different way and succeeds. Fascinated by his sister's powers, Stefek sets out to inform fate that he wants his father back and is willing to use any means at his disposal to accomplish that including toy soldiers, Elka's auto-mechanic boyfriend Jerzy (Rafal Guzniczak), coins that he throws on the railroad tracks, and a flock of pigeons.
Elka denies that the man Stefek identifies is really their father and refuses to become involved in the boy's plans, being too busy washing dishes at a restaurant, studying Italian, and concentrating on getting a job with an Italian businessman. Jakimowski has coaxed outstanding performances from his mainly non-professional cast and the film reaches a level of authenticity and poetry that is rare for a director making only his second feature. Relationships are affectionate especially the one that young Stefek strikes up with the man at the train station, ultimately devising a scheme to try and bring him back to his mother's grocery shop. Supported by cinematographer Adam Bajerski's stunning close-ups and wide-street shots and a pitch perfect score by Tomasz Gassowski, Tricks is a genuinely moving film that may just bribe fate to make it a contender for Best Foreign Film at next year's Oscars.
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