How It’s Done (Director: Marcel Lozinski, Poland, 2006): Piotr Tymochowicz is a Polish political consultant and this film, shot over four years, follows him as he molds a group of young hopefuls into political contenders. The task is interesting because not only do none of them have political experience, but most don’t have any strong political opinions at all, which suits Tymochowicz perfectly. You see, the whole thing comes across as a sort of Machiavellian reality television show, and his complete and utter cynicism and misanthropy are apparent every second he’s on screen. Which made me feel like I needed a shower when it was over. Over time, most of the hopefuls drop out, either due to inadequacy or discomfort with how they’re being manipulated, but by the end, young Dariusz is in position to be elected to Parliament, even though he’s betrayed his ideals so many times he doesn’t know where he stands. “We haven’t finalized my image,” he says evasively. What started with some public speaking lessons and political exercises that seemed like performance art pieces has brought him to the brink of success. Only he’s a hollow man.
Journalist Jacek Hugo-Bader is along as an observer and acts as the audience’s horrified proxy during the film. In an interview with Dariusz at the end of the film, he marvels, “You could become my president?” And it seems eerily possible.
Though the film makes some good points, it makes them often and the unpolished style combined with the length made the film flabby when it should have been sharper. I also didn’t like that it wasn’t until the end titles that we discovered that the film was shot over four years. The filmmaker’s decision not to share this information at the outset could lead the audience to think that this was a “crash course” in political indoctrination when in reality, many young people’s political opinions form and change often over the course of four years.
But if this film proves anything, it’s that the arrival of “political consultants” like Piotr Tymochowicz shows that democracy in all its messy glory has now firmly taken hold in Poland. And the film certainly was still fresh in my mind while watching my next film.