Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and I have quite a bit in common. We’re introverts, rather than being the type to get up all in your face about ourselves. We’re quiet, rather than being loud. And we’re emotional on the inside, rather than being openly weepy or demanding that you weep in return. Alright, maybe I stretched that metaphor a little longer than I should’ve, but it gets the point of The Pianist across; it’s a subtle finesse of a film, very moody and very constrained. It endeavors to be all that it can be, yet it still manages to be incredibly understated. How it achieves this yin and yang existence is one of the great things I liked about this film, and as I’ll get to, this film turned out to be quite hard to find out things about it that were likable.
The best way I could describe the color motif of this film is to compare it to the slew of genericized video games that came out in the past decade or so; brown, dusty, and grungy, with a hint of sepia. It’s overpowering, and doesn’t let up at all, which given the subject matter seems to be a good fit. Now, obviously, we’ve all been educated as to how evil the Nazi regime was to the Jews; that goes without saying, but rarely does a film really capture how repugnant they were to an entire people than The Pianist does. It actually became hard to bear most of the time, and there were a few times I actually had to stop the movie just for a breath of fresh air, which I guess I could attribute to the film’s success, even if it wasn’t a pleasant experience. As for Adrien Brody, he gives a wonderfully restrained performance; I don’t know if I’d call it Oscar-winning, as I haven’t seen all of the other nominees, but I can see how he did end up winning.
I liked one quote from the book, which cited The Pianist as the film Polanski had been waiting to make all his life. It shows in the level of commitment he brings to the project, the detail he puts in without being excessively gaudy in doing so. It’s an extremely well done period piece, that never seems to overstate or put itself out deliberately. However, this also means that it is very subtle, very un-showy; there’s not a lot that this film really puts on the table for offering, and you may walk away from this one wondering if you were really satisfied. But still, for as commonplace as a lot of the elements of this film put together seemed, I found it hard to pin down a film experience that matched The Pianist for what it does, so in that its inclusion on the list seemed a simple decision. This is one to at least try, even if you don’t like war films, but this will likely do almost nothing to change your mind if you don’t; it’s everything a moody, dramatic war film would ever want to be.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10