I Never Cry
Ola (Zofia Stafiej) is a cynical 17-year-old who has a vendetta against the world and an intense dislike towards her father, who has left home for a job in Ireland. She believes that he abandoned their family to have a life of his own, but when he’s suddenly killed in an accident at work the teenager is the only one who’s able to travel to Dublin to make the arrangements for his remains to be brought back to Poland. While her motivations for going are purely selfish at first, the protagonist soon finds herself trying to find out more about who her parent was as she struggles to handle the mounting bureaucracy and finances to accomplish her goal.
Written and directed by multi award-winning filmmaker Piotr Domalewski, I Never Cry is a bittersweet, dark comedy that draws heavily upon the interpersonal dramas of Ken Loach such as Sorry I Missed You or I, Daniel Blake. On one hand, the feature is a slyly humorous coming-of-age tale about an adolescent gradually revaluating her outlook on life. On the other, it’s a moving portrait about the hardships faced by emigrants and their families back home. Though the premise may sound like two ideas competing for attention, much of the picture’s success lies within the writer-director’s ability to blend these two ideas together in a way that’s natural and organic. Through doing so, he’s able to isolate the human components of this story and dissect them when needed.
Leading the charge is Stafiej in the starring role. Ola is fierce, stubborn, and fully independent. The actress is a force of nature on screen, whose stern expressions and vicious wit give rise to many comical moments in what is ultimately a tragic story of loss. Moreover, she can show vulnerability when the moment calls for it, too, though the protagonist’s vulnerable side isn’t explored far enough for viewers to see more of the character beyond her tough demeanour. A last-minute moral dilemma tossed in towards the end likewise isn’t given the development needed to leave any lasting impression on events.
I Never Cry is a smart and touching coming-of-age tale with a lot more going on below the surface that’s led by a formidable lead performance. Unfortunately, the overall impact is let down by a needless plot detour and a main character who’s too impenetrable for their own good.
I Never Cry is released in select cinemas on 23rd July 2021.
Watch the trailer for I Never Cry here: