Early on in The Plagues of Breslau, we are introduced to Helena Rus (Malgorzata Kozuchowska), a homicide detective with a cold demeanor, sitting motionlessly in her car. A trio of roadside hipsters, go faraway in exhibiting their foul nature by playfully opening her car door, only to leave in silence after witnessing the gun in her hand. Throughout this scene, which spans under a minute, an acknowledgment from her standpoint regarding what just happened, is null. She neither ignores them nor spurns; both these actions would indicate she sensed their propinquity. Her apathy, which persists through the movie is perceptible from the get-go. Writer & Director, Patryk Vega’s choice to drive the narrative through female viewpoints, is interesting, although not completely fruitful owing to jaded writing that barely exploits this facet.
Predominantly a whodunit, the suspense building works in a similar fashion to David Fincher’s Seven. It’s difficult not to be reminded of Fincher’s 1995 mystery-drama, attributed to the nature of repetitive crimes, that compose the narrative. There ends the uncanny resemblance. As a matter of fact, the serial-killer in The Plagues of Breslau, draws inspiration from Polish history for the act of murder. The mystery that builds up early in the film never translates into full-blown tension. The characters never seem to be anxious to solve the puzzle, that doesn’t necessarily mean the film’s lazy, it’s not intriguing either.
The screenplay tries to jolt us in intervals of 15 minutes by displaying dead bodies resulting from ferocious acts of violence, like high nodes on a music sheet. The intended shock, too, lacks the force because the on-screen gore never transcends beyond the physical violence. Imagine a serial killer – who employs ghastly methods to kill victims – is on the loose in your city. In an ideal case, that should be sending a shiver down the spine. Here, it is far from frightful to the people involved, let alone the viewers who know it’s fictitious. By the time the second dead body is discovered, I was just waiting for the next gruesome/innovative death because the runtime between these high nodes is merely fillers in the context of character development. The moments where Helen and her partner Iwona Bogacka (Daria Widawska) familiarize each other, with ‘coma’ being the center of their conversation, the writing stands out from the rest of the film and feels artificially appended in the pretext of character development.
There are glimpses of the film’s recherché intentions, to portray the oppression of a woman in the man world. Sadly, the pretext is subdued by the writing, which doesn’t consider leveraging the mental aspects of these.
The conventional nature plays an adversary and mars it from being a dark take on the world dominated by men in suites.
The Plagues of Breslau is streaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer of the film here: