(Nie)znajomi

Poland also joined the untold “competition” of creating remake of an Italian movie Perfetti Sconosciuti by Paolo Genovese. As the German remake premiered on 31. October, I decided to write this post little bit different and describe Polish version as well as the German one. After this I found out that Netflix has also French remake and so it becomes a short summing up of three different movies.

Highlights of the Polish version

The story is centered around the dinner table and seven friends. At first, they just meet to catch up, enjoy Italian dishes and spend nice time together. The dinner seems to go well until one of the friends, or actually a friend’s girlfriend, suggests a game: everyone puts their handy on the table and all the calls will be put on a speaker while text messages will be read aloud. We expect that some dramas among the spouses or partners might appear but the real sad truth is probably that everone has a secret and it’s not only about sexual betrayal. Moreover, sometimes it should and have the right to stay private. The game changes points of view, triggers arguments and thus also a hidden desire to finally share the burdens some of the firends were holding since longer time. Now they got opportunity to speak up.

Polish version has tremendous cast among others Tomasz Kot (known to the international audience mainly from Pawlikowski’s Cold War) and Maja Ostaszewska. Important to mention is also Kasia Smutniak – Polish actress living in Italy and until recently also more known in Italy than in Poland. She played in the Italian, original version the same role she had in the Polish one. What is more, she was also a co-producer of (Nie)znajomi. Nice way of helping the Polish version, right?

What stayed with me the most was probably the monologue of Ostaszewska and people laughing at the beginning until they realized it’s something more serious than a joke. Their reaction suited actually perfectly to what the monologue was suppose to reflect. Laughing is also another point, as sometimes I had impression that people didn’t realize when some statements wasn’t suppose to be funny anymore. Why was that? I still couldn’t find the answer.

French elegance

French elegance is a stereotype, which the movie confirms 100%. This version was the second I saw and it surprised me with the three main actresses. I even thought to myself: wow, this version of a tired mother is “to elegant”. Probably I still imagine myself tired mums in a used sweaters and with black rings around their eyes. But hey, it’s French version, right? Are they confirming the stereotype or is it true? I think the second. The same like the fact, that they were smoking much more and, as someone told me, it’s also true – French people like to smoke. The relations were changed: we had here 3 marriages instead of the constellation of two and one not married couple. Moreover, there the actors were not so different like the Polish ones. Or maybe was it the effect of the elegance? Probably yes, as well as changing completely one of the women.

The other difference was introducing the idea of the special full moon phenomenon, which the other version skipped. It didn’t brought anything special to the movie and in fact damaged the whole ending… If you ask me: Polish or French, I asnwer Polish. French movie was more like theatre play (oh, they love such genres). It had also too much music! Exactly, they tried to build up more drama with the old trick of using the music.

Germany produced another blockbuster

The current top actors appeared in the German remake: Elyas M’Barek, Karoline Herfurth, Jella Haase or David Florian Fitz. The latest played the “lonely friend” and as the actor isn’t obese at all the screenwriter and director, Bora Dagtekin, decided to gave up on the idea of “the fat friend”. Pitty, because the obesity created some kind of sympathy for this character. Without obesity, there wasn’t a sound reason for firing him as a teacher, so the screenwriter came up with another idea and adjusted it to the German teaching reqirements. That I found interesting as the reasons, which were used were so typical German (I’m sorrry to say that), namely: follow the working system, otherwise you’re out.

What is more, it was really interesting to see the difference between Polish French and German women and their current life goals. While the first two still decide to be full-time housewifes, in Germany the priority is career and being businesswoman. Or at least this is what they believe to be the best for them in their life (feminism). Both Polish and French wife were complaining about having too much at home and feeling like they exist only thanks to their children. Meanhwile the German businesswoman shows us emancipated woman, who resigned from maternity leave in order to continue her career. Her husband was the one, who hated staying at home and wished he didn’t agree on it. Conclusion? Both versions of a woman were not fuliflled in life. Funny enough: we just always want to have what others have, even though we were the ones who took decision before!

The movie was the box office success in Germany in 2019, with over 3 Million tickets sold. I do believe that it’s due rather to the top actors, than a great translation of the Italian screenplay. The ending just damaged it all, even more than the French one. It was just superfluous and typical for blockbuster style movies.

All in all it was a game

Although all three movies were remakes of the same movie, all three showed perfectly the typical cultures and their respective attitudes. You don’t feel like watching the same movie even though you know what will happen. And even if you know what will happen, there are still three different endings. Personally I liked mostly the Polish version. The French ending kind of damaged the whole movie as at the end we didn’t have the development of the characters and it seemed a theatre play rather than movie. German version on the other hand added so much, that it destroyed all the drama built up so hard step by step through the whole movie. Reaching this drama wasn’t easy, as they relied mostly on cheap jokes so it wasn’t needed to do “let’s explain it all” ending. As if they forgot that people can think as well.

It’s remarkable how many remakes this Italian movie had and the reason for this, more than the jokes, is the idea itself: friends read and show everything they get on their handies. We think that we share everything with our partners, spouses and that are closest friends know us the best. At the same time everyone has something, which should have stayed private. At the beginning I thought that the movie will focus mostly on the betrayals between spouses or partners, but it showed how many secrets one could have. And it’s ok to do so as some of them, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, can be untold.

I would describe all three movies as comedy-drama. However, the Polish actors managed to show in the best, most dramatic way different personalities, reactions and emotions. French version was the worst, when it comes about acting and the German one is somewhere in between. The ending? Also Polish and it’s not because I feel sentimental, no, it’s because they really managed to do a good drama about middle-class friends having a nice get together..

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