Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Pianist (2002)

Directed by Roman Polanski

Starring Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox, Michal Zebrowski, Ed Stoppard


Any story about Jews in WWII Poland is going to be depressing. Relying on that as the source of the drama, and not the personal story of the main characters, is cheating.

The story is all over the place. There are times when I’m not sure where Szpilman is, why he’s there, what he’s doing, or who he’s talking to. Supporting characters are not well-established. Even subtitle usage is inconsistent.

Brody plays the victim well, but being naturally meek and emaciated to begin with reduces the dramatic transformation we could have seen over the course of the story. I suppose Brody was meant to look like the real life Szpilman, in which case there may not have been much room for dramatic license, but still, I think this was a missed opportunity.

Overall, the intense subject matter hides Brody’s mostly flat performance. I think he’s a bit overrated as an actor and was lucky to win the Oscar. His track record of mediocre performances in the decade since this film was released might be evidence of this.

Wilm Hosenfeld, the Nazi officer who helped Szpilman in the end, might have been a more interesting subject for a story.

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