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With: Janusz Gajos, Andrzej Seweryn, Roman Polanski, Agata Buzek
Written by: Andrzej Wajda, based on the play by Aleksander Fredro
Directed by: Andrzej Wajda
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Polish with English subtitles
Running Time: 100
Date: 03/18/2013

Zemsta (2002)

1 Star (out of 4)

Fraud Humor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The goodwill that Roman Polanski has recently built up in the film community may just be dashed again if too many people see Zemsta. Directed by the legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, Man of Iron), Zemsta is one of those frolicking costume flicks adapted from a creaky old play and set in one location for two solid hours. Polanski lends his acting skills as a cowardly errand boy who tries to act brave all the time, even though he's not fooling anyone. This joke ran dry about 400 years ago, and Polanski does not have what it takes to bring it back to life. Come to think of it, Polanski played this same kind of role in his own film The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) and wasn't much good in that, either. The rest of the play is kind of a Romeo & Juliet number about lovers who belong to warring families, except that this is a comedy with people running in and out of rooms and giving wild speeches with lots of flailing gestures. Part of the reason we love Shakespeare so much is not his plots; it's his language. It's the beautiful way he can speak about love or the dirty double-entendres he snuck in. With this play, written by Aleksander Fredro (1791 - 1876), and translated as Revenge, the dialogue has all been adapted from Polish into bland English subtitles. All the fun is gone. Indeed, Zemsta is virtually pointless. We owe it to Polanski to forget all about it and concentrate on The Pianist.

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