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SUCCESS IS THE BEST REVENGE (director/writer: Jerzy Skolimowski; screenwriters: Michal Skolimowski/Harriet Pacaud/Michel Ciment/Barbara Elster; cinematographer: Mike Fash; editor: Barrie Vince; music: Stanley Myers/Hans Zimmer; cast: Michael York (Alex Rodak), Anouk Aimee (Monique des Fontaines), Michel Piccoli (French Official), John Hurt (Dino Montecurva), Michal Skolimowski aka Michael Lyndon (Adam Rodak), Jerry Skol (Tony Rodak), Jane Asher (Bank Manager), Joanna Szczerbic (Alicia Rodak), Archie Pool (Casius Banghali), Tim Brown (Teacher); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerzy Skolimowski; Fox Lorber; 1984--UK-in English)
The pic merges political strife with domestic strife, which produces some far-reaching sparks.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski (“Deep End”/”The Shout”/”Hands Up”), living in exile in London, offers a follow-up to his Moonlighting pic about Polish exiles in London. This one covers the same theme of how the exiles, old generation and new, adjust to the new land, but because of surreal touches and some bewildering acting it at times loses me and is not quite as orderly as Moonlighting even if it might be more profound. It was filmed hurriedly in Skolimowski’s Kensington residence in London and Jerzy’s 15-year-old son Michal, going under the name of Michael Lyndon, is co-star and co-writer with dad, Harriet Pacaud, Michel Ciment and Barbara Elster.

Alex Rodak (Michael York) is a famous Polish dissident theater director living in exile in London after receiving a theatrical award in Paris from a French diplomat (Michel Piccoli) and then failing to return to Poland’s military rule. The director with his wife (Joanna Szczerbic, real-life wife) and rebellious teenage boarding school son Adam (Michael Lyndon) and a younger son (Jerry Skol, real-life son) focuses on putting on a big West End anti-government variety show to show the world the political oppression going on in Poland and how the Solidarity movement is opposing it, which troubles his son because it will mean he can never return to Poland. The kid also resents that his posturing dad is using his exile status to cash in on the money-making show venture backed by a slimy wealthy Polish exile Brit producer (John Hurt). Meanwhile Adam feels rootless, and after bullied in school for being Polish he makes secret plans to return to Poland and learn more about his heritage. The pic merges political strife with domestic strife, which produces some far-reaching sparks.

Jane Asher has a funny bit, talking like Thatcher while playing a bank manager grilling Rodak why she should grant him a loan to buy an expensive blue-colored foreign car.

The unique pic is energetic, wildly Polish as New Wave cinema and wonderfully filmed, but too much of the production was muddled and kept me distracted.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”