I repeat it ad nauseam, but Poland is slowly but steadily becoming very strong in shooting interesting crime novels. HBO has just hit the very successful “Thaw” taking place in Szczecin, while Netflix is following the blow by offering another dark story based on the book by Harlan Coben.
The streaming giant has already paved the way for the warmly received series “In the Woods” based on another detective story by Harlan Coben. “Keep calm” is therefore the second Polish production (I would like to mention Polish, because Coben is “screened” for Netflix also in other countries thanks to an appropriate contract) and you can see that with each subsequent series it is getting better and better. The action takes place mainly in one of the prestigious, guarded housing estates in Warsaw’s Mokotów district. In a nearby school, one of the students commits suicide, but everything seems to have a second or even third bottom.
Keep Calm (2022) – series review [Netflix]. In defense of my son
Magdalena Boczarska and Leszek Lichota (for the series Ania and Michał Barczykowie), who play the parents of two children, are in the foreground of this drama, and their son (Krzysztof Oleksy, known for example from “Rojst 97”), who seems to be involved in the case, causes more problems. the death of a colleague. And that the holy boy is not suggested by the fact that his parents are spying on his phone, which only adds spice to this thread. Boczarska in the role of a mother looking for the truth, but also a bit tired of the burden of life and motherhood, seems to be the best, and it was with pleasure to follow her adventures on the screen. This is a really good role, because he is a character that plays a bit on two fronts, in some ways mysterious and evoking the greatest emotions with his behavior. In addition, we get to know her best of all the heroes of the series, entering together with the series Ania more and more into private life.
Although the series has moved from the book New York to Warsaw, you can sometimes feel the “Americanization” of some threads. The shots from the drone or the landscapes of Warsaw are captivating at times, several places create an interesting atmosphere, but the capital itself is not a hero here and sometimes the local character was lacking a bit. I am aware that the material status of the characters here is much higher than the national average of an average Pole, but the fact that the whole story is embedded in the Polish reality is a bit troubled by several scenes that try to show a luxurious life straight from Beverly Hills. The lifestyle of young people is presented here quite specifically, which at times seems unnatural, even costumed. It’s a pity, because the conflict between young people and parents, also related to the lack of trust in each other, is quite well built. Which does not change the fact that the series was made at a really high level, also in terms of sound, which is not always so obvious in Polish productions. And most importantly – the intrigue and subsequent twists and turns make the story captivating and it’s hard not to turn on the next episode.
Keep Calm (2022) – series review [Netflix]. More than one clue
Along with the development of the narrative, the series also introduces a large number of heroes, also in the form of actors, who we could see “In the depths of the forest”, which is a nice touch and a wink to the fans. I am talking primarily about Agnieszka Grochowska, who plays Laura, a school psychologist, and Grzegorz Damięcki, who plays the role of a former prosecutor and her partner. His daughter Kaja (Agata Łabno, who is the best out of the young cast and is simply credible) is the girlfriend of Barczyk’s son, and this is only a small part of the web linking the characters. After all, we also have the role of Bartłomiej Top in the form of a teacher with something on his conscience, Tomasz Drabek, a single father whose daughter is a friend of the Barczyk’s offspring, or the duo Jacek Poniedzialek & Justyna Wasilewska, cast in the roles of serial killers marching around Warsaw, who seem to be realizing some broader plan. Thus, the series also includes several exciting action scenes or fights, quite neatly implemented and building up tension.
The series is quite dynamic, it’s really hard to get bored here, the more that new leads are thrown every now and then. Some, less other, more reliable. And only the police sometimes seem quite inept and unequal in terms of acting (with distinction for Julia Wyszyńska, who pulls this thread on her shoulders). Although it may be a deliberate procedure. Nevertheless, if you watched “Rojsta 97”, the police duo Magdalena Rózdzka & Łukasz Simlat is simply hard to beat. It is important that the production keeps you in suspense until the very end and can surprise us. The accumulation of heroes and related themes can sometimes be a bit disturbing, because the creators introduced completely new characters to the series, in a way expanding themes in relation to the book, but in the end we have a lot of fun, and this is probably the most important thing. Especially that the characters played by the actors of merit for our cinematography are usually not one-dimensional.
“Keep calm” despite a few shortcomings is a series worth recommending to both crime fiction fans and people who just like to experience an interesting, addictive series during the weekend. The story is multi-threaded, allows you to create your own scenarios, and the finale itself may be quite a surprise for some viewers. And I keep my fingers crossed for the next screen adaptation of Coben’s book, because Poles are really successful in this art.