Train to Zakopané

Writer-director Henry Jaglom's blocky dialogue makes his already hard-to-swallow WWII romantic-drama Train to Zakopane -- a desperate plea for tolerance that follows self-righteous Russian-Jew refugee Semyon (Mike Falkow) as he struggles with his romantic feelings for anti-Semitic Polish nurse Katia (Tanna Frederick) -- even more unpalatable.

Many conversation-centric scenes -- adapted by Jaglom (Ovation, Tracks) from a stage play that he wrote about real events from his late father's life — circle around, but never meaningfully develop two crucial plot points. Katia is unaware that Semyon is Jewish, and he doesn't know how to reconcile what he sees as her dual nature. She's ostensibly both "a fierce, hating bigot" and a "sweet, lovely, almost innocent creature," too.

But Semyon and Katia's relationship is consistently unbelievable since she's always raving about the economic anxieties that compel her to hate Jews. Her father was swindled by, in her words, "One of those crazy older religious Jews with the beard and the cape and the big black hat," while he weakly explains to her that, "There are all kinds of Jews, just like there are all kinds of other people."

Jaglom's dialogue also frequently trips up Falkow and Frederick, making it even harder to appreciate his leads' chemistry. (It is best expressed, here, through their warm smiles and curious glances.) If you spend enough time watching Train to Zakopane, you might want to join Semyon when he answers Katia -- after she wails that she doesn't hate Jews, she "just doesn't like certain attitudes, certain behaviors" -- in screaming "Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!"

Credits

Director:

  • Henry Jaglom

Cast:

  • Mike Falkow
  • Tanna Frederick
  • Kelly De Sarla
  • Jeff Elam
  • Simon M. Jaglom

Writer:

  • Henry Jaglom

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