The Pianist (2002)

(In theaters, February 2003) Did we need yet another Holocaust film? Well, maybe not, but few will complain after seeing Roman Polanski’s latest effort. It’s the based-on-true-events story of a Polish Jew whose adventures in war-torn Warsaw defy common sense. Adrian Brody turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as a protagonist who’s harassed, saved, helped, forced to hide and then to flee in the remnants of a destroyed city. Technical credits are top-notch, and Polanski’s direction is in fact pretty darn good in an understated fashion. The film, maybe inevitably, is stronger in its first half as we witness the casual harassment of the Warsaw Jews; whereas The Pianist never gets close to a concentration camp, this section film shows that plenty of horrible things did happen in the so-called “safe” city. The second half of the film is a touch less urgent and rather more surreal, as the protagonist becomes a rabbit stuck between the armies fighting for Warsaw. You haven’t seen this story before. But you probably should.

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