Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the Agnieszka Grochowska show in Anna Kazejak’s dark, dramedy F*cking Bornholm. A film that has chaos etched into its core, a film rife with discontent while managing to sneak in the right amount of laughs to keep us engaged. An entertaining storm of a film.
A group of friends with their children go on a traditional long weekend trip on the Danish island of Bornholm. However, an incident between children will trigger a wave of crisis in their relationships.
Has a film ever been about a family vacation where everything has hit the van? I can’t think of one if there is, but this is where Anna Kazejak’s film F*cking Bornholm starts.
By keeping the perspective firmly in the female gaze with Maja, F*ucking Bornholm is able to dodge the usual plot points that come around, or at the least bring what is usually the side plot to the fore for us to get what it would be like for the wife. Usually, we see the men having laughs as the women are left to shake their heads and get on with things. But what happens when one such wife doesn’t?
Grochowska takes this film by the scruff of the neck and makes it her own as she plays the oft-maligned Maja. A woman who is as frustrated with her marriage as she is disheartened by it. While her husband cares for his RV and the things he likes, he has forgotten one of the most important people in his life. Maja is left to keep things together, and only when she does begin to find time does it click for Hubert, but Maja is done. The final straw breaks the camel’s back in the incident between the two boys of the group.
Kazejak and co-writer Filip K. Kasperaszek manage to toe the line with their film to allow us to stay on Maja’s side throughout the film. We can see how void of love her marriage has not gotten. However, her anger turns out to places we do not necessarily want her to go, with the duo reigning her character when required. It is smart writing to show that even our protagonist is a flawed person who has been left so alone that there is no sane sounding board for her to bounce off of.
However, what hits home beyond Maja is how all of this affects the children. An important incident in this film showcases how a parent’s relationship, or lack of one, immediately damages the children. One of the boys is coping with a broken marriage with his father hanging out with a far younger woman, while the other see’s his parent’s relationship going the same way as his friends’ marriage. These moments hit home hard and show how much a simple story about a disastrous holiday has to say about family.
One last thing, do not be surprised down the line to see an English language remake of F*cking Bornholm; it is a film rife for adapting. For not, appreciate it for what it is, an excellently made emotional comedy-drama. Not a film to ignore.
Kinoteka Polish Film Festival 2023 takes place in venues across London 9 March – 27 April.
For further information and tickets: https://kinoteka.org.uk/
Other reviews from the festival so far!
Woman on the Roof
The Hamlet Syndrome Bread and Salt
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