Here is johnny, a new Netflix Original from Poland! Someone is knocking on death’s door here, but not because of Redrum – it’s this grim reaper from cancer who unfairly shortens the life of a priest who runs a hospice facility. Rather than resign themselves to counting down their days, a dying person gives life to someone who needs help.
JOHNNY: STREAM OR SKIP?
The essentials: It’s a true life story fit for the screen. Patryk (Piotr Trojan) has to do 360 hours of community service in a hospice after being released from prison for robbery. Pastor Jan Kaczkowski (Dawid Ogrodnik) has about six months to live after a brutal cancer diagnosis. The two men mix like oil and water, but eventually find common ground amid their converging paths of cynicism and optimism about the meaning of life. As is often the case on screen, adversity not only builds character but also builds connections.
Which movies will it remind you of?: Fans of Polish cinema might see echoes in between johnny and nominated for Best International Feature Film in the Country in 2019, Corpus Christi, as both deal with religion and redemption from the perspective of a criminal trying to start a new life. But for those who are a little less familiar with recent international hits, movies will do Les Miserables (the movie musical!) too ikiru/Life could give an idea of the kind of issues this film deals with around the intrinsic value of a good life.
Notable performance: The Patryk redemption arc is somewhat familiar, so it’s Dawid Ogrodnik as Jan who really gets a chance to shine playing a more complex journey full of contradictions. His refinement and nobility radiate everywhere, yet he never lapses into the comfortable tropes of beatification or martyrdom. Ogrodnik never loses sight of what makes his character human, for better or for worse.
Memorable dialogue: “Time is the most precious thing we can give each other,” Jan says to an audience that rises to applause, “our private time.” As is often the case with people approaching the end of their time on this mortal spiral approach, Jan often spouts wisecracks – but this one really stands out as it is relevant to both the world of the film and the viewers.
gender and skin: There are some flashes of sensuality between Patryk and a woman, but no Johnsons — or other nudity, for that matter johnny.
Our opinion: johnny feels a bit unfocused because it’s not quite sure who the protagonist is between Patryk and Jan. Their journeys are twins and fates intertwined, but their individual storylines end up wrestling for narrative primacy. Whiplash can be a bit confusing because its redemption story is pretty easy to digest. johnny can also slip a bit into clichés about saints and sinners, but never tilts into PureFlix territory with moralizing or preaching to the choir. The film does not shy away from the thorns of life, death and redemption. It also benefits from the directorial enthusiasm of Daniel Jaroszek, who is making his feature film debut after struggling with music videos. He finds ways to translate the driving, powerful spirit of film into poetic imagery that commands attention. Remember: Jaroszek will one day make a great film if he gets a script that suits his talents.
Our appeal: STREAM IT! johnny transforms well-worn characters and scenarios into a touching story of forgiveness. His invigorating spirit of grace is enough to cover up any multitude of flaws, and the unusually inspired direction gives him an extra boost.
Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. Besides Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, The Playlist and many other media. One day everyone will realize how right they are Spring breakers.
Regard johnny on Netflix
https://decider.com/2023/03/24/johnny-netflix-review/ Stream or skip?