Directed by Roman Polanski.
Written by Ronald Harwood. Based on the book by Wladyslaw
Starring Adrien Brody.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 1/15/03
Hey, “The Pianist” is one of the most
acclaimed films of 2002, and my Sunday night movie club picked this
one for last Sunday, so I definitely had to hang out. I mean, how
often does the great Roman Polanski make films?
The winner of the Palme D’or at Cannes last
year, and the winner of the National Society of Film Critics Best
Picture Award, “The Pianist” is clearly loved by the press. I could
see why after coming out of the theater on this one—this story of a
Jewish pianist (Adrien Brody) in Germany during World War II is
often gripping. Based on a true story, we follow a pianist named
Szpilman (Brody) in 1939 Warsaw that is taken from his home, along
with his family, to the Jewish Ghetto and moved multiple times over
the course of five years from the projects to the ghettos as he
struggles to survive extermination efforts by the Nazis before the
Allies can come in to save the day.
For me, it doesn’t matter how many times I
see these Holocaust films, they are always stunning in their
portrayal of Nazi hate crimes. “The Pianist” doesn’t get very gory,
but its violent visuals really will be tough for you to sit through
if you want to see this film. A large number of Jews are killed
execution-style, and later, as the Jews fight back against their
Nazi oppressors in the ghetto, the well-choreographed battle scenes
show us dozens of innocents mowed down by machine gun fire
throughout the two-and-a-half hour film. Make no mistake—“The
Pianist” is as bleak as bleak can get, and you’ll probably walk out
of the theater after shedding a few tears and shaking your head at
all that takes place here.
Brody, who is essentially the whole film, is
excellent here. He is not too talkative, and that is fine, because
his consistently-grim facial expressions speak much louder than
dialogue ever would. As he goes from respected pianist to manual
laborer to slave to runaway, he makes for a solid lead performer and
is eminently watchable. The support from the actors playing
Szpilman’s family are very good, and a late cameo by Thomas
Kretschmann as a German officer that tries to help Szpilman is very
effective in the film’s late moments. The film is beautifully shot,
its minimalist score effective, and features a perfect ending—short
There isn’t much bad to say about “The
Pianist”, save for its long running time. One assumes that it will
be nominated for Best Picture, given its multitude of other awards,
and it is a deserving choice. Check it out, as long as you remember
that you are not going to be in for a pick-me-up.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard