The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski) Review
Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay
The Pianist follows a detailed account of the true story of a Polish Jew pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, during World War II, and his story of survival both in the clutches of Hitler’s reign and Nazism. Here he undergoes a terrible tragedy which, in turn, leads to personal redemption.
As directed by Roman Polanski, the movie really did bring back the horrors of the Holocaust and never shies away from the brutal and horrific homicides that take place during the Nazi occupation. What separates this film from other WWII stories is that it’s not a tale about someone who causes an uprising or a rebellion to help save the Jewish body, it just simply tries to capture what most people during that time were trying to do: survive. There isn’t any hero nor strong-willed force trying to save the day, Szpilman is just, in fact, a pianist, a miraculous survivor of the Holocaust and a witness to the barbaric events of the time.
What enhanced Szpilman’s character is the exceptional performance by Adrien Brody. He is a humane protagonist but also a realistic one. He never exhibits as one being too kind or perfect. His empathic and intelligence levels are of equal measures, without one trying to overthrow the other. In addition, he captured the feeling of hopelessness, loneliness and grief excellently while also maintaining a passion for music and Chopin. What Brody delivers here is a very passionate performance with vulnerability that was really deserving for his Academy Award win.
The problem with this film is that it spends the bulk of its first act and second act introducing the viewer to characters that wouldn’t be needed for the third act. I do understand that this is the story of Szpilman only and what he went through, but the film seemed to take its time introducing his family and his friends who just suddenly disappeared during the last hour. It would’ve been better if these characters were used as an emotional aspect that Spzilman would have to face by the climax, but the film just leaves them in dead air, making the emotional payoff of this film less impactful. That made me exasperated since the running time did not compliment what the movie could’ve shown to its audience.
The two and a half hour running time really did turn me off for what it only presented emotionally and significantly, but The Pianist is still worth a watch, mainly for a realistic account of the Holocaust and for Brody’s performance. Great music, sober direction, the film is brutally realistic and eye-opening with having just the right amount of fervency for its ideas.
Watched April 2017