After the fiasco it was 1983the Netflix platform decided not to risk and based the next Polish project on the book by the author Harlan Coben, i.e. a world-renowned specialist in crime fiction. Production titled Deep in the forest maybe it was not perfect, but it was received positively by viewers – and not only in Poland. No wonder that the American streaming giant followed the blow and filmed another book by this author – Keep Calm. Especially since he signed a fairly lucrative contract with him to create content based on his stories and original scripts. It implements them not only in Poland and the USA, but also in France and Spain.
The writers, as in the previous series, made some changes, setting the action not in New York, but in Warsaw. More precisely, in a gated estate in the Ursynów district, which is a paradise on earth for the middle class. This is where physiotherapist Ania Barczyk (Magdalena Boczarska) with her husband Michał (Leszek Lichota) and two children. They lead a seemingly carefree, happy life, but the reality is less rosy. One of the students committed suicide at the school attended by Barczyk’s children. Or at least that’s what the police say. The boy’s mother believes that he was murdered and that his friends, including Adam Barczyk (Krzysztof Oleksy), are hiding the truth. As it happens with Coben, we have a lot of heroes here, because apart from the Barczyk family, there are also neighbors (Mirosław Zbrojewicz), family friends (Agnieszka Grochowska and Grzegorz Damięcki), teachers (Bartłomiej Topa), police investigating and marauding murderer (Jacek Monday ). They all have their threads that seemingly do not seem to connect with each other. However, the closer they get to the end, the more they merge into one. The action has a very fast pace from the very first episode and does not slow down in the following scenes. The viewer does not have time to reflect on what he saw, but he and the characters are thrashing between various tracks and locations.
Writers working on Keep Calmapparently with the consent of Coben himself, they made some changes to the plot. And I am not talking about changing the place of action. The plots of some heroes have been significantly expanded. For example, the former prosecutor Paweł Kopiński and his partner Laura. These are characters that we know well from Deep in the forest. It was supposed to be a tribute to viewers who liked these characters and would like to know how their fate turned out. The problem is that we don’t get answers to the questions we stayed with after that show ended. The creators do not mention a word about Paweł’s sister, whom he found in the final scene. Thread. So, instead of enjoying their return, I was pissed that the creators decided to keep it all quiet and pretend that nothing had happened. Maybe Netflix, like Marvel, wants to build a “coben universe”? But why if it doesn’t connect it in any way? In addition, Paweł was supposed to reign in the background, helping the main characters, but he only wanders around the house aimlessly, sits at the computer and conducts an internet investigation. If his character were not present in this production, we would not lose anything. It is forced in here and you can feel it.
The main plot itself is very nice. The action is suspenseful, and the viewer is curious about what really happened at school and how much Barczyk’s son is soaked with it all. There is no doubt that he is guilty. Already in the first scenes we see his mother installing spyware on his phone. This is unlikely to be done to a child who has the full trust of his parents. Even this procedure makes us interested in what is happening in this family. And then the action only speeds up. Coben knows well that we like crime fiction and we are suspicious of everyone who is involved in the story, at least to a small extent. He plays with us, throwing up a lot of false leads, so that in the end we will feel confused and not know who is good and who is bad. Unfortunately, such a carousel also has its weaknesses. There are threads that did not exist before, and some suddenly disappear without a word of explanation. Chaos is creeping in in places. But due to the fact that the action rushes so fast, we quickly forget about it.
The undisputed star of this production is Magdalena Boczarska. The actress finally gets a character that she can play a little bit with. It was missing in Sasha’s elementswhere she was terribly constrained by a poorly written script. It is different here, thanks to which the viewer gets involved in her fate. He survives its every fall, and there are many of them here. Unfortunately, at some point too much misfortune is blamed on this poor woman, making the viewer wonder how many bad things can happen to one person in such a short time. Leszek Lichota, who is partnering with her, does not fare so well, but this is because the creators forced him to have a certain appearance and attitude of the protagonist. You can see that it does not suit him. He cannot find himself in this role. He tries his best, but is not given the opportunity to develop.
Keep Calm it is also not a production that focuses on presenting its heroes, because we don’t really learn anything about them. From start to finish, they are strangers to us who are trying to find our son. We accompany them in their fight against time and cheer them on to make them succeed. This is not a complaint. In fact, we do not need to get to know them, because we do not need to know who they are and what problems they face on a daily basis. We are only observers of a few days of their lives, so we focus on current events, collecting scraps of information about their past.
Compared to other domestic Netflix productions Keep Calm looks good. It is an interestingly constructed detective story with good roles and a surprising finale. He has his problems, resulting more from the underdeveloped script, but they are not persistent enough to take away the joy of watching. This is not a production after which you will want to discuss with your friends. It is supposed to keep us entertained for one or two evenings.
Editor-in-chief of naEKRANIE.pl. Film journalist. He has published, among others, in: Wprost, Rzeczpospolita, Przekrój, Machina, Maxim, PSX Extreme. Fan of Terry Pratchett’s work. In my spare time, which I do not have too much, I play on PS4, read comics from the Marvel and DC stables, and when an opportunity arises, I play football.