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FILMS / REVIEWS Poland

Review: Love Tasting

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- The winner of the Microbudget Film Competition at the Polish Film Festival is a frenzied and passionate tale of growing pains, showcasing emerging talent Dawid Nickel

Review: Love Tasting
Sandra Drzymalska in Love Tasting

Dawid Nickel’s Love Tasting was by far the best film presented at the new Microbudget Film Competition, dedicated to features produced with less than a €200,000 subsidy from the Polish Film Institute. In fact, it was one of the most interesting and captivating films of the entire Polish Film Festival, which concluded on 12 December.

While it seems that nothing new or fresh can be told about this utterly horrible phase of human life — the teenage years — Nickel manages to tackle the subject with energy and commitment. Hormones give the story a beat, while the awesome soundtrack provides emotional shelter for the group of lost (and nowhere near found) junior highschool friends, who just begin their summer vacation. The story is set in a small town, where daily life unfolds between church choir practice, hanging out at the local swimming pool, bootleg parties, the garage or basement at the parents’ house, and a balcony in a high-rise. This is where Kuba (Michał Sitnicki) smokes cigarettes and watches his slightly older neighbor (Agnieszka Żulewska). Officially, he is dating the outspoken Monika (Sandra Drzymalska), whose twin-brother Tomek (Mikołaj Matczak) holds a secret crush for Kuba. Oliwka (Nel Kaczmarek), on the other hand, tells her girlfriends that she is having a clandestine romance with a popular boy, an act which has graver consequences than missing a curfew.

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The young cast is mesmerizing — from the shy Tomek to the overconfident Oliwka — and Nickel extracts a lot of intensity from his actors, making each character both annoying and  relatable. The camera keeps a close eye on them, giving Love Tasting a documentary feel. The visual style resembles that of Gaspar Noé’s two recent films — Love [+see also:
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]
and Climax [+see also:
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—but doesn’t match their intensity, the tempo and mood coming closer to the early films of Xavier Dolan. American independent coming-of-age movies also seem to be a reference, but Nickel, who worked with Małgorzata Szumowska (Body [+see also:
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interview: Malgorzata Szumowska
interview: Malgorzata Szumowska
film profile
]
), has a style of his own. His storytelling is smooth and at times warmly ironic, which balances well with the tone of the characters who, like all teenagers, take themselves way too seriously.

Music also plays a crucial role here – whether it’s in the background for Tomek dancing routines, or whether it emulates the kids’ emotions. Matczak, Rotterdam Terror Corps, Low Roar, dj lotos and Hania Rani (composer awarded for Main Competition entry I Never Cry [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Piotr Domalewski
film profile
]
) are among performers on the film’s soundtrack.

Nickel has made a very modern, swaggering and authentic film about growing up in a small town, of the kind that can be found in every corner of the world, and which is always way too small for growing feelings, needs and longings. Love Tasting captures the unique bitterness of the first heartbreaks and disappointment, which luckily gets gentler with time.

Love Tasting was produced by Marta Habior (Dolce Fine Giornata [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jacek Borcuch
film profile
]
) and her Warsaw-based company No Sugar Films. The Polish distributor is Galapagos Films.

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