An adaptation of concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoirs about his experiences in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, Polanski's cinematic return to the ravaged world of his childhood starts inauspiciously, lumbered with the clichés of Ronald Harwood's script. The actors (mostly from British TV) who play the musician's doomed family squabble to order about how to react to events. Once Szpilman is left behind, however, and forced to hide in empty apartments in the ever more unrecognisable city, his struggle simply to survive is rendered with increasing subtlety, and Brody's lead performance steadily comes into its own. Old-fashioned in both visual and narrative style and in its overall restraint, the film clearly benefits from the director's first-hand knowledge of the territory.
Cast and crew
Jessica Kate Meyer