There’s surely drama to be found in a story of gay desire set against the repressive attitudes of a deeply Catholic country, but this Polish feature almost seems wary of its subject matter (which is surely more controversial at home than abroad). Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk) is a top-class swimmer on the verge of making the national team. While things are awkward at home between his live-in girlfriend and his single mum, what’s really on his mind is Michal (Bartosz Gelner), a posh, handsome wastrel who (unlike Kuba) is open about his homosexuality.
Cool restraint, however, is the order of the day for director Tomasz Wasilewski, who has a great eye for architectural composition but leaves us with only a sketchy understanding of characters and their emotions. With self-deception and violent homophobia on display, it’s also a bleak assessment of the prospects for gay Polish youth, but the treatment’s too standoffish to generate much in the way of outrage. For all its surface allure, it doesn’t fully communicate the cultural pressures pushing its protagonist towards a life of denial.