We wondered what it was about the movie “Johnny” that had us so glued to the screen. It had such little dialogue and very inconsistent pacing, the latter of which is, in our view, a greater sin. We believe that the movie made a deliberate decision to not be preachy yet forced the audience to adopt a positive mindset while interpreting the scenes. It makes us hope for the protagonist, Patryk, the way Jan had hoped that the world would place its faith in him. It is not just about giving a person a chance, but what it takes to do so—the love and efforts that go into the rehabilitation of the person and the continued faith in his goodness while knowing their past crimes.
There are moments in “Johnny” when you feel bad for Patryk when he is denied a chance by the system, but there are also moments when you wonder if you would have considered it worth trusting him had you been in Jan’s shoes. But maybe that is what made Jan Kaczkowski so special. Living for others is an art that people don’t understand very often. It is not just about shooting darts of good intentions into the world; in fact, it is about creating an entire ecosystem of the doable, the guidance, and the extra, along with knowing who to place your bets on, just like any other enterprise except with a different objective. The road is as lonely as it is fulfilling, and Jan knew how to walk it. The movie is based on the real-life of Jan Kaczkowski, told through the lens of Patryk Galewski, and this is how it unfolds.
Who Is Jan Kaczkowski? How Does Patryk Meet Jan?
Jan Kaczkowski is a priest who cares about the people everyone else has given up on. As the narrator says, he walked uphill with his endeavors, and he did it without complaint. As we said before, Jan was made of more than just good intentions, and the hospice that he was working for was in shambles. There was never enough staff or medicines for them to be able to do what they wanted; therefore, Jan went ahead and opened one of his own by taking out a loan. We are not ones for sentimental talk, but maybe someone had a point when they said that God gives the toughest exams to his strongest soldiers. Jan was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. The doctors said that any amount of time he lives beyond that is a miracle. Upon hearing the news, Jan starts putting his affairs in order, namely, the home he has built. He wants to make sure that the people there are well cared for and that a system is established for its smooth functioning. The Archbishop is against the hospice, but that doesn’t stop Jan. According to him, the hospice is based on the church’s teachings and not the opinions of priests. Jan makes sure that the Archbishop does not interfere with the hospice by reminding him that he knows about his alcoholism and his personal stake in the other properties.
Meanwhile, Patryk is a thief who has been sentenced to jail for breaking and entering. But currently, he has been given orders to do some hours of community service at Jan’s hospice, and if he is good enough at that, his suspended sentence will be completely reduced. It is not the smoothest sailing for Patryk at the hospice, but Jan’s way of talking to him makes him smile. He doesn’t become his friend right away, but he is not patronizing either, and maybe that approach comforts Patryk. While he is initially grossed out by the work he has to do, he eventually picks up when Jan gives him a pep talk about responsibility. Jan is his mentor and has his best interests at heart, which is something Patryk has not encountered before. Soon enough, Patryk becomes an integral part of the hospice and is friends with the residents there. He is affected by what he sees. There is Agnieszka, who is a young mother on the verge of death. As she is so close to Patryk’s age, her death hits him differently. He had been living a reckless life so far, thinking that he had nothing to lose and that God did not care about him. But seeing Agnieszka makes him realize that he still has a lot of life, something many other people are not granted. Patryk begins to change, but not everybody believes that he does.
One of the residents, named Roman, gives Patryk money and asks him to get some stuff as a test to see what he does with the money. But when Patryk does his job responsibly, it is a surprise for Roman. Then there is Hania, who is initially rude to Patryk, but that is her way of teaching him manners, something he never learned growing up the way he did. Hania and Patryk eventually form a close bond, and she gives him her ring, telling Patryk to use it to propose to the girl he wants to marry. When Hania passes away, Patryk is left grieving and confused, not knowing what to do. Jan tells him that when someone is on the verge of death, they must be told that it is okay for them to go and not burden them with the expectations and responsibilities of the people left behind. It is a perspective we hadn’t heard before.
Patryk continues to expand on his work and finds that he has the skills to become a chef. It is during this time that he meets Zaneta, and they eventually start dating. Patryk’s life is turning around for the better, and he has a lot to be responsible for now, things that he cares about and that actually make him a better man. As for Jan, he continues to promote his hospice on television with great success. But not everything is going well, and he gets the news that his tumor has returned. Jan was prepared for it, but his family is left in tears. Meanwhile, Patryk’s hearing is coming up, and despite Jan’s positive testimony that he has turned a leaf for the better, the court decides to send him back to jail. However, Jan is not one to give up, and he puts in all of his efforts and successfully gets Patryk’s sentence reduced. When Patryk is released, he resumes his work at the hospice. Life picks up where it left off, and he attends a course on how to be a chef, sponsored by Jan. Also, Zaneta is pregnant, and though she rejected him when he proposed before going to jail, a new chapter of their lives is starting now.
‘Johnny’ Ending Explained: Why Didn’t Patryk Go For His Interview? How Did Jan Die?
Jan gets Patryk an interview at a prestigious restaurant for the job of a chef and asks him to go there the next day, but Patryk ends up missing it. When Jan asks him about it, he finds that Patryk had skipped the interview as he had been trying to threaten Roman’s son into paying his father a visit. Jan is angry with Patryk, and they end up having a strong argument. The thing is that Roman is on his deathbed, and when his son comes to meet him, he finds that his father passed away the previous night. After the fight, Patryk tries to call Jan but can’t get through to him. When he goes to see him, he finds Jan collapsed on the floor and he is admitted immediately. Jan passes away soon after while Patryk was telling him that the child they were expecting might be a boy.
Jan was a man who gave himself selflessly to the world. His death left a deep mark on the lives of everyone who knew him, not just because of what he had done for them but because of who he had cared to be. Patryk will make something of himself anyway because one man’s faith showed him that he was capable of being more than just a lost cause, and that direction is enough for him to lead the rest of his life. We might never see another man like Patryk, but as long as we learn to have faith in the people around us, his death wouldn’t have been in vain.
“Johnny” is a good film, but better pacing would have made it great. Also, did anyone find themselves questioning why the movie was named “Johnny” and not “Patryk” because we felt more connected to the latter. The answer comes to us soon enough. It was because we are looking at the biography of a man through the film, hence the name, but we still feel a certain way about it. However, the important thing is that this movie has brought a sense of calm to our jaded hearts by telling us that despite our misgivings about trusting people, a little bit of faith can change a person’s life and that is worth having our trust broken, a few times if it means we get it right at least once. We are going to think about Jan Kaczkowski for a long time, and we hope the world takes a few lessons from him.
“Johnny” is a 2023 Drama Biopic film based on the life of Jan Kaczkowski. It is directed by Daniel Jaroszek.