The Pianist (2001)


As Adrien Brody’s Wladyslaw Szpilman desperately scavenges for scraps of food in his makeshift hideout in Nazi occupied Poland, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist risks slipping into the predictable action movie it threatened to be with its run of the mill plot about the undignified oppressed, not to mention the borderline cliché classical score. Just hang in there, as the climax proves worth the suffering (yours, and Szpilman’s).

How important Chopin is to the canon of Western classical music is less important than its suitability to its use in the film. The last of these you want to call the best moments of the film, but this author reserves that distinction for a sunset behind a smoky valley, full of unspoken, intangible, painful, yet satisfying resolution.

A man cornered against his will but keeping his reserve is also invincibly suave because he has nothing to lose. This is still Brody’s best performance, and it betrays a young man beyond his years, but it’s probably Polanski who deserves most of the credit.