Polish Bride, The

Director: Karim Traidia

The Polish Bride is a delicate two-hander chamber piece about the slow-kindling love between a hermit-like farmer and a battered refugee. Impressively modulated and affecting, not just for its poignant surface drama but for its portrait of a vanishing agricultural way of life, this first feature by Karim Traidia won the audience award for the most popular film at last year’s Rotterdam Film Festival.
An eddy opening swiftly establishes the plight of the title character, Anna (Monic Hendrickx), as she staggers beaten and bleeding through the streets of a small town in Holland’s northern Groningen region and collapses at the feet of stoic farmer Henk (Jaap Spijkers). He takes the frightened woman in and cleans her up, with the unlikely couple keeping a circumspect distance from each other as she recovers. Her nightmares economically reveal she was contracted into prostitution against her will.
With sparse dialogue, minimal incident and moments of gentle humour, the barriers are gradually worn down between them and an odd bond of domesticity and companionship begins to form, beautifully captured by Hendrickx and Dutch theatre actor Spijkers. Cautious but also quietly assertive, Anna assumes housekeeping duties and establishes new rules that Henk gruffly begins observing. He buys her language books to improve her Dutch and transmits his love of the land to her, while she civilises the bear-like man and brings warmth into his cold house.
Algerian-born Traidia, who settled in Holland 18 years ago, shows a deep understanding of this very Dutch pastoral setting and the farmer’s Calvinist reserve. His unobtrusive direction is well served by Jacques Laurey documentary-style cinematography.

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