Sparkling Polish Gem at Soho International Film Fest: The Eccentrics (On the Sunny Side of the Street)

Freedom through music
An unobtrusive comedy much better than the simple description in the Soho International Film Festival program at Village East Cinema at 2nd Ave and 12th st, The Eccentrics: On the Sunny Side of the Street is an intelligent Polish mix of amusing social commentary, spy mystery, and political satire which is also a fine philosophical celebration of upbeat, soulful swing as a come together refuge from atrocious politics, in this case the wooden and dangerous absurdities of Communism in the fifties in beleaguered Poland.

This very accomplished film is a delicate, many petaled rose of good humor, satirical intelligence and unexpected takes on what would be in lesser hands a straightforward tale, but after a brief slow start when the underlying deadly seriousness of the Polish war and postwar experience is quickly established, every scene is made interesting by a skilfully provocative script by Wlodzimierz Kowalewski (it’s his original novel) and effortless acting by all.

A wholly interesting and amusing standout shouldn’t be blushing unseen on the festival program at Village East Cinema (189 2nd Avenue), where it will be run once at 8pm-10pm on Tuesday, June 20, and we advise anyone with a taste for worldly wit and emotional teasing of the most sophisticated yet pointed kind, the most achieved in Polish comedy that has been seen in Manhattan for years, should make sure to catch it.

For that will be the only chance here to catch what is the current cap from 2015 to director Janusz Majewski’s body of work which is widely admired in Poland and abroad. The Eccentrics unreels a deadpan saga where every scene is a pleasing turn and interesting surprise, from the unexpected bonding of official and suspect just returned from London exile over a piano which leads to the suspiciously easy recruitment of good players for his big band renditions of American Patrol and many other top tunes, to the romantic denouement where the uphill seduction by our hero of his personally challenging lead singer (“I won’t tell! – the less you know the more you’ll care!” is her reply to his post success inquiry as to her past life) crumbles catastrophically, revealing that it is political machinations behind the scenes which fill the story with intriguing off kilter interruptions.

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