The workings of destiny are inscrutable. One day you read your horoscope in your favorite magazine "The Secret World of Animals" and the stars tell you to change your life and quit your job. Rather than risk the ire of higher spheres, you hand in your notice and, quite by chance, you come across the author of said horoscope in the kebab shop where you no longer work. Sharing existential insecurities, you find common ground and discover that marketing is a line of work that requires intuition rather than any specialist training. A carpet shop, which has never had a single customer cross its threshold, is an ideal place to start a business. The staff there harbor huge potential for eccentricity, and their lukewarm position on floor coverings presents you, as self-styled professionals, with something of a challenge.Written by
This film shows us that we all suffer in life but we may as well laugh at it.
Kebab and Horoscope, Grzegorz Jaroszuk's comedy about the hapless, clueless employees of a carpet store, balances awkward, cringe- inducing humour with some of life's hard truths. It deals with loneliness, romance and relationships in a melancholic fashion, but the next laugh is never far away and serves to keep the mood light hearted. Released earlier this year, it will be screened as part of the 4th Edition of Play Poland Film Festival, and is a personal highlight of the programme.
The film immediately sets the downbeat tone with the meeting of 'Kebab' and 'Horoscope'. One was an employee of a kebab shop, the other a horoscope writer for a wildlife magazine. Both now sit depressed, alone and jobless in a quiet kebab shop. After bonding over an inedible kebab, they devise a plan to reinvent themselves as marketing experts and offer their services to probably the quietest carpet store in the world. The employees are so in awe that they happily submit to the, supposedly, specialised training scheme the marketing geniuses have in store for them.
What follows is hilarious scenes of the them lecturing the staff with nonsensical babble while they all marvel and somehow interpret it into common sense. These are intercut with glimpses into each of the employees' private lives, which sometimes collide and intertwine. They include the shop owner who is so self-conscious and keen to impress, especially some of the female staff, that he is constantly trying to build up his muscles by lifting weights and doing press ups. And the young woman who is subjected to sharing a bed with her depressive and ungrateful mother and is forced to track down her long lost love. All seem to suffer from the lack of real love in their life and the expressions of longing in all the actors' faces makes this clear. The questionable advice and guidance they receive seems to inspire and motivate them towards self improvement and happiness. The gurus, or conmen, watch on in glee as their plan takes hold.
The performances given are understated and controlled, and some scenes feel like there is a dark cloud hanging over them. Long silences give a sense of the awkwardness of the characters. In this respect, parts of this film were reminiscent of what Wes Anderson achieves in his films. The eccentricity and, sometimes, absurdity of the characters providing the foundation for humour. Even the style of cinematography was similar at times, with lots of wide angles and symmetrical composition of establishing shots. We get to see lots of the characters' environment which often seems pale and drab, and more and more we sympathise with them.
"Kebab and Horoscope" leaves no feelings of resolution or of an uplifting nature, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The director lets us experience the characters' lostness and loneliness but makes light of it in equal measure. It is comedy masquerading as drama in that the characters are oblivious to the comic aspect of their tragedy. This film shows us that we all suffer in life but we may as well laugh at it.
Review by Stuart McWalter for the Play Poland Film Festival.
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