A tale of a rebellious Polish girl forced to deal with some serious adult issues, I Never Cry is gruelling, darkly humorous and moving, with a brilliant central performance from its young star, Zofia Stafiej. She plays 17-year-old Ola, desperate to pass her driving test after failing three times and who lives with her mother and disabled brother. Her father lives and works in Ireland, saving money for the family and cash for Ola to have a car once she passes her test. Ola, however, has hardly ever seen him. When he is killed on a construction site, it’s up to his daughter to travel to Dublin and sort out his remains for burial back home.
Ireland is a whole new world: scathingly portrayed in its treatment of foreign workers, as our heroine is bounced from place to place trying to find out more about her father and whether he did actually save up any money for her car. Stafiej is superb as the angry, intense youngster forced to identify her father’s mangled body, grittily and doggedly using whatever means she has to get what she needs, but always reminding us of how vulnerable this young girl is.
As revelations come thick and fast, Ola aiming to discover who her father really was, we are taken into a bleak, caustic underworld – foreign workers living in compromised conditions trying to make their way in life, getting wages to send home for families they never see. Social realism at its best shot through with the odd moment of poignancy and comedy, director Domalewski never strays into obvious territory: the film constantly surprises as it takes odd but believable turns. It also hinges on Stafiej’s engaging, engrossing performance as she realizes some home truths about herself, her family and the world. And, as the title may suggest, there are inevitable tears.
Dir: Piotr Domalewski (15, 100 mins)
Released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Mon 11 Oct
words KEIRON SELF