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November 09, 2010

Starz Denver Film Festival 2010 - Little Rose


Jan Kidawa-Blonski - 2010
Monolith Films 35mm film

Beyond the historical interest of Little Rose are the questions raised about how identities are assumed or conferred, by oneself or by others. Just as the main characters have duel identities, so the film can be read in more than one way.

The film takes place in Poland following the aftermath of the Six Day War in which Israel fought against the surrounding Arab countries, winning decisively. The communist party has decided that use that event as a reason to purge Poland of Jews within any positions of authority, whether in the government or education. Kamila, a pretty young woman, is involved with the volatile, Roman, a member of the secret police. Knowing that Kamila is acquainted with a professor, Adam, suspected of being Jewish, and therefore a Zionist enemy, Roman recruits Kamila to spy on Adam. Kamila and the much older Adam renew their friendship, which eventually evolves into a deeper relationship.

Simply as a genre film, Little Rose can be thought of perversely as a twist on Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious, one in which it turns out the Claude Rains is the genuine good guy, and Cary Grant is the one who can't be trusted. Not that Grant is thoroughly trustworthy in Notorious, but the basic setup is the same. The various unexpected twists and turns make this study of a romantic triangle as suspenseful as the best Hollywood classics.

But more than that are questions regarding national and personal identity. Is Adam in love with Kamila as she truly is, or how he imagines her? Why does Kamila continue to report on Adam's activities even when their relationship changes? The title refers to the nickname given Kamila, which also serves as her official nickname on behalf of the secret police.

From a strictly historical perspective, the film sheds some light on an aspect of Poland that was not fully known in the west during that time. At several points in the film, writer-director Jan Kidawa-Blonski cuts between historical reenactment and documentary footage, even finding actors who look like their real life counterparts. The original posters of the film feature star Magdalena Boczarska in almost all of her glory. And anyone who sees Little Rose simply for this star will not be disappointed by how much they see of this gorgeous blonde actress. At this time, Little Rose is only available for U.S. viewers if they can catch it on the festival circuit. For myself, this is one of those times when seeing a film with no knowledge beforehand certainly paid off.

Posted by peter at November 9, 2010 02:12 PM