JDIFF Review – Hardkor Disko

Marcin (Marcin Kowalczyk) is intent on murder. When he arrives at his intended victims’ home, however, they are not there. Rather than admit defeat, Marcin worms his way into the family home through the daughter of the house Ola (Jasmina Polak), and wins the affections of her parents, before acting on his deadly intentions.

Hardkor Disko is a slowpaced, dark psycholgial drama that does not always live up to its lofty designs. Focusing more on mood than story, the film is siffused with a creeping feeling of dread – when the main character is introduced holding a knife, there is really only one satisfactory direction for the story to take – but while the performances are natural end engaging, there is emotion and story missing from the film as a whole.

As mentioned, the cast do well in their roles. Marcin Kowalczyk is particularly strong as the charming but menacing Marcin, Jasmina Polak captures the feel of a restless youth, Agnieszka Wosinska and Janusz Chabior have natural chemistry as Ola’s parents; the focus of Marcin’s desires.

The story, written by Krzysztof Skonieczny and Robert Bolesto plays with the Oedipus tale, but rather than allowing this to be subtly conveyed, repeatedly hits the audience over the head with the comparison, until the whole central intent of the film feels laboured.

As director, Krzysztof Skonieczny seems unsure whether he is making a music video for Swedish singer Tove Lo – the extended nightclub scenes, while well shot, become tiresome – and while the cinematography is lovely, Skonieczny’s focus on single shots that last minutes – oftentimes where nothing happens – drag the pacing of the film down to a crawl. As well as this, since the audience knows there is something not right about Marcin from the start of the film, there is rarely a feeling of danger or suspense about the inevitable violent scenes.

In all, Hardkor Disko is beautifully shot, but feels like a combination between a music video and a drawn out drama. The performances are engaging, for the most part, but story is laboured and ultimately, unsatisfying.

Rating: 2.5/5

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