Yuma (★★ Empire review)

YumaSquarePolish films released here tend to be of the grim-yet-worthy variety exemplified by Katyn and In Darkness, so it’s refreshing to see something a bit different. It’s 1990-ish, and Communism has collapsed across Central and Eastern Europe, but life has yet to change for fresh-faced twentysomething Zyga (Jakub Gierszal). So poor his shoes are made of cardboard, he scratches a living smuggling stolen goods across the border from his own ‘wild West’ – Frankfurt, Germany (twinned with Yuma, Arizona). As Zyga’s crimes escalate into gangster territory, the film is increasingly hamstrung by Gierszal’s store-mannequin ‘acting’, as though Justin Bieber has been cast in a remake of Essex Boys. It’s a pity, because co-writer/director Mularuk clearly has interesting things to say about the messy birth of capitalism in Poland. Yuma wants to be the Polish Goodfellas, but it suffers from what’s known as ‘Kingdom of Heaven syndrome’: fatally hobbled by a blank central performance from a pretty boy with all the charisma of a chair. ★★


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