Prime Time, A Polished Polish Hostage Thriller
Starring: Bartosz Bielenia, Magdalena Popławska, Andrzej Kłak, Małgorzata Hajewska–Krzysztofik
Directed by: Jakub Piątek
Rating: ** ½
Prime Time(polish, Netflix): As I watched the young androgynous-looking hero Sebastian(Bartosz Bielenia) hold up a television station on new year’s eve I thought of the channel’s TRPs hitting the roof. Had Sebastian stormed the tv station with that intent and purpose? Was this hostage situation created artificially to boost the channel’s rating?
No such twist happens in the tale. Sebastian is serious about holding up the channel’s star anchor, a tall edgy whiny woman Mira(Magdalena Poplawska) and the lanky security guard Grzegorz (Andrzej Kłak) inside the studio set, as the staff members of the news channels look on with horror and curiosity.The negotiators are nonplussed. And ill-prepared. Somewhat like the film’s script writer.
I wish I could say my involvement was as intense as that of the negotiators . Prime Time pulls you in to Sebastian’s world of desperate attention-seeking. Once we are in, neither Sebastian nor this film’s director seem to know what to do with our attention. I mean, what does Sebastian want? He looks androgynous and perhaps he needs a sex-change operation?
Here I am only guessing . My assumption is based on Sidney Lumet’s tense 1975 thriller Dog Day Afternoon in which Al Pacino holds up a bank to procure money for his partner’s sex-change operation. Sebastian never says what he wants. Not even when the negotiators call in his father who comes across as an intimidating bully who lets family secrets fly out.Maybe the channel should have recorded him for their next reality show.
So is Sebastian a victim of child abuse? What about his two hostages? We know the star-anchor Mira is a single mother because she keeps moaning about her child’s babysitter(not her her child, mind you). And the security guard , a figure that exudes much suppressed angst, is just too stoic to be of any use to the plot.
I did like the class tension between the star anchor and the security guard. In one sequence she asks him to “do something” when they are put in the car that was the prize money for the game show Mira was to anchor before the hold-up. And then she tells the guard to move away from her in the car as his shoulder was touching her.
The narrative squeezes you into the plot. But does little after that. Interesting to begin with, the plot soon loses momentum. The fact that the hostage holder Sebastian hardly looks dangerous doesn’t help either.By the time the hostage-situation plays itself out, there is nothing here to keep our interest alive.