There’s this running joke on the internet that Poland is home to some of the most pretentious and heady films of all time. This notion probably stems from the fact that Polish films were never really commercially viable. Given the country’s history with World War 2, the themes of those films were largely centered around Communism, and it’s likely that casual movie-viewing audiences found them to be unrelatable. Still, I’m sure you’ve heard of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Three Colors” trilogy, Andrzej Wajda’s “Kanał,” Paweł Pawlikowski’s “Cold War,” and the sub-genre that’s known as the “cinema of moral anxiety.” However, despite the alleged inaccessibility of the aforementioned films, I think they’re way, way better than the steaming pile of hot garbage that is “Kiss, Kiss!”
The protagonist of the film (who is, in fact, a total villain) is Tomek. He’s in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, who wants him to meet her parents. He has a steady job where he’s simply expected to show up on time for a meeting. But after noticing a random girl while entering his office, he totally forgets about his girlfriend and his job so that he can pursue this girl. The girl rejects him, he’s fired from his job, and his girlfriend breaks up with him. So, of course, like the parasite Tomek is, he goes to live with his brother, Janek. On the one hand, he tries to push Janek towards the love of his life, Klara, by making him replicate his misogynistic methods of wooing girls. On the other hand, he gets the job of filming the royal wedding of Minister Kosecki and actress Patsy’s son, Kris, with a girl named Ola. It turns out that Ola is the girl that Tomek stalked earlier. Guess what he does next? He sexually harasses Ola while her mother-in-law is looking away and, later on, makes a bet with Janek that Ola is going to break off her marriage and get into a relationship with him.
What do I need to say after that string of sentences to come to a conclusion that, objectively speaking, there’s nothing remotely redeemable about “Kiss, Kiss!”? Writer Andrzej Golda has compiled every sexist trope that has been called out since the beginning of cinema, given it a modern update with some relevant dialogues and is now trying to peddle it as a sweet little romantic comedy. Well, I don’t blame him. Most male Boomer storytellers usually try to convince viewers that regressive courting and traditionalism need to make a comeback. “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar” did it earlier this year. Since Indians have a tendency to view cultural progress in a negative light and lap up the glorification of patriarchy and internalized misogyny, its success made sense. But with such a rich history of making radical cinema that went on to define the world, it’s shameful that such a film is coming out of Poland. I’ve nothing against light-hearted movies. However, “Kiss, Kiss!” uses its peppy aesthetic to mask its contempt for women, as it states that even if you’re a man with zero charisma, you can get the lady of your dreams if you stalk and pester them consistently.
While watching the film, I was under the impression that they were going to contrast Janek and Klara’s courtship with that of Tomek and Ola and therefore illustrate that you can begin a relationship by respecting the concept of consent. While everything about them was quite normal initially, Golda managed to ruin that with Tomek’s involvement and make Klara go through all kinds of trauma. Yes, you can say that the emotional abuse inflicted upon Klara was actually fake because Janek didn’t want her to be associated with him, thereby getting a certain gangster off her tail. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to protect the one you love instead of straight-up abandoning them? Also, given how the movie goes out of its way to show that Janek’s mistreatment of Klara only increased her love for him, Golda and director Tomasz Konecki’s putrid mentality becomes incredibly apparent. That’s probably the reason why the movie looks horrendous. There are no interesting frames. No memorable cuts. There is nothing that can stimulate you in any shape or form because the writer and the director are busy celebrating misogyny, stalking, and creepy behavior.
By the way, just because I am putting the blame on Golda and Konecki for this nonsense doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast and crew get a free pass. Movies don’t happen in isolation. Yes, it’s true that Golda must’ve come up with the script, and Konecki must’ve loved it enough to sign on as the director. But it has clearly been okayed by the executive producers and the producer because they align with whatever this film is saying. What about the crew? Aren’t they just trying to stay employed by accepting any work that comes their way? Sure. However, if one is ready to forget about ethics and morality at the sight of money, who knows what else they’re capable of? That said, I think movies like “Kiss, Kiss!” should exist so that you can weed out the artists who are willing to tell such bigoted stories, as well as those who are enjoying them. It is exactly like a litmus test but for people with rotten taste in movies.
At the end of “Kiss, Kiss!” we see Midas (Tomek’s employer) shooting a drunk homeless person while remarking that the Oscar for Best Direction is going to go to “Kiss, Kiss!” And I’d like to say that, at that moment, Tomasz exhibits an inkling of awareness because he knows he has made something incoherent, yet he has to act like he has delivered a masterpiece. But, in doing so, I’ll be giving him the kind of credit that he doesn’t deserve. So, I won’t do that. I can’t even say that the movie would’ve been somewhat tolerable if the protagonist wasn’t written like an arrogant schmuck who is being played by one of the worst leads in movie history because that’s just plain wrong. What I will say, though, is that I urge you to seek out good Polish films instead of simply making memes out of their rich legacy. Don’t let “Kiss, Kiss!” be your only foray into movies from Poland. Be better than those who are making movies like these.