Reviewed By Elaine Perrone
Posted 08/03/04 02:54:02

"A profoundly moving parable."
5 stars (Awesome)

SCREENED AT SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2003: At first blush, Edi is a deceptively simple, and bleak, portrait of meager people most of us would cross a street to avoid, assuming they even registered in our minds at all: itinerants who spend their monotonous days scavenging scrap metal for resale and castoff household goods for themselves, then squandering their equally monotonous nights drinking up their earnings in the local pub.

That description would seem to fit precisely the lives of Edi (Henryk Golebiewski) and his best friend Jureczek (Jacek Braciak), men in their 30s whose years of hard-living make them appear twice as old, and who share living quarters in a burnt-out factory without electricity.

Jureczek is a man of utter simplicity. His proudest possession is his television -- his first ever! -- which, without benefit of a power source, he can only admire longingly. Our first inkling that Edi is a man of somewhat greater depth comes with learning of his love of books (a favorite being Romeo and Juliet), which he reads by candlelight and stores in a scavenged refrigerator.

Knowing of Edi's passion for reading, a pair of bootlegger brothers hire him to tutor their sister Princess (Aleksandra Kisio), reckoning that his ugliness will pose no sexual threat to the "virginal" 17 year old girl.

It's at the point that Princess becomes pregnant and, attempting to protect her boyfriend from her murderous brothers, falsely accuses Edi of raping her, that he is set on a course at once heartbreaking and profound.

Director and co-writer (with Wojciech Lepianska) Piotr Trzaskalski based this tale upon a Buddhist parable about a man who is wrongly charged with fathering a child but accepts the responsibility without uttering a word of opposition, a parable that "proves there are angels among us [whose] virtuous qualities of humility, stoicism, and mercy can be found as much in the gutters as in cathedrals."

Committing acts of stunning, selfless generosity, displaying characteristics of humanity and mercy of a person far above his "station" in life, Edi is ultimately an unforgettable man who finds a measure of serenity in the now, and redemption in a world of abject poverty, squalor, and brutality.

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