Political drama with romantic edge set in Communist Poland

‘Little Rose’

By Cate Marquis, Special to the Jewish Light

The political, historic drama “Little Rose” is one of the many excellent films in this year’s St. Louis Jewish Film Festival. “Little Rose,” in Polish and French with English subtitles, is also one of several Polish (or part ly Polish) films in this year’s festival; others are “Rememberance,” “Torn,” “My Australia” and “Joanna.”

“Little Rose” is adult fare, due to some frank nudity and sex scenes. However, make no mistake — this is a worthy and serious drama, a revealing political thriller with fine acting, thought-provoking plot twists and a surprise ending.

Set in Communist Poland in the 1960s, Robert Wieckiewicz, who starred in the recent Oscar nominee “In Darkness,” plays Roman Rozek, a cynical member of the Polish secret police. Rozek is having an affair with Kamila Sakowicz (beautiful Polish TV and movie star Magdalena Boczarska), a blonde party girl who thinks their relationship is more serious than Rozek does. Rozek’s boss Colonel Wasiak (Jan Frycz) suggests Rozek recruit his girlfriend to spy on one of the professors at the university where she works as a secretary.

Adam Warczewski (Andrzej Seweryn, who appeared in “Schindler’s List”) is both a professor and a famous author. The authorities suspect this out-spoken intellectual of being a “secret Zionist” who is concealing his Jewish identity. At first, Kamila is reluctant to spy on the professor but is bullied into it by Rozek. When she is allowed to pick her own code name, she chooses “Little Rose,” her lover’s pet name for her.

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As Kamilla works to gain the older professor’s trust, he starts to win her heart. Rozek, on the other hand, is emotionally cold, even abusive towards Kamilla. But his feelings change over time, creating a dangerous triangle.  

Director Jan Kidawa-Blonski co-wrote the script for this 2010 film with Maciej Karpinski. The story takes place during that time when Communist countries, including Poland and Russia, were persecuting Jewish citizens and there were a mass exodus of Jews from those countries.

The story is gripping, even heartbreaking, as it involves us in these characters’ lives and recreates the historical moment. All the characters grow beyond what we expect from them and new layers are peeled back about secrets and identity in nearly every scene. The acting, too, among all three principle characters is very strong but particularly by Boczarska and Wieckiewicz, whose characters are practically transformed in the course of the film.

Beyond its fine acting, the film sports a firm directorial hand, taut editing and masterfully composed photography. Several scenes are remarkable in their cinematic beauty, often ironically underscoring tense emotional situations and its theme of secrets and betrayals.

Although “Little Rose” is grown-up stuff, this moving film is excellent as dramatic entertainment and enlightening about its historical setting.