wed 29/03/2023

Blu-ray: I Never Cry | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: I Never Cry

Blu-ray: I Never Cry

An embittered Euro-orphan learns some truths about her father – and herself

Among the Dubliners: Zofia Stafiej as Ola in 'I Never Cry'Eureka Entertainment

In Piotr Domalewski’s I Never Cry, newcomer Zofia Stafiej excels as sullen Polish schoolgirl Ora, who resentfully travels to Dublin to collect the body of her estranged father, Krzysztof, who has been killed on the unsafe waterfront site where he’d been hired as an emigrant construction worker.

Since there’s no insurance money forthcoming to cover the cost of transporting the coffin, Ora fears she’ll have to use the money her dad said he was saving to buy her a car, supposing he was telling the truth.

This is Ora's worst-case scenario and partially explains her truculence. Any grief she feels has been submerged. Inevitably, it rises to the surface, prompted by her encounters with people Krzysztof knew in Dublin, including his workmates and especially his brusque Polish employment agent (Arkadiusz Jakubik) and his unwelcoming Romanian girlfriend Sara (Cosmina Stratan). I Never Cry is ostensibly about the knowledge Ora gleans of her long-absent father; ultimately, it’s about her gaining of self-knowledge.

Ora is not a rabbit in the headlights, but a streetsmart kid blessed with the kind of resourcefulness and fearlessness that sometimes persuades authority figures to overlook young people’s crimes. She doesn’t think twice about burgling the office of Krzysztof’s former workplace and isn’t unjustified in doing so.

When, on the phone or Facetime, her mother (Kinga Preis) – the stoical sole carer of Ora’s disabled brother – rebukes her for swearing and smoking, Ora argues she’s only 17. Like, how else is she supposed to act conducting a grownup’s mission with no means of paying for it and no experience of navigating a foreign city?

A character it’s easy to empathize with if not to like, she chain-smokes with a 40-year-old’s bitterness throughout her difficult journey. Her omnipresent fag is a salve for the pain she’s accrued having not seen her dad for seven years, but also a self-spiting mark of teenage rebellion. (Pictured above: Preis, left, and Stafiej.)

Another is Ora’s caller tune, Jacek Tarkowski’s punk song “HWDP” with its “fucking police, fucking police” refrain, which is guaranteed to antagonize, for example, her Polish driving instructor. This glint of earthy humour suggests second-time writer-director Domalewski is a fan of Ken Loach, as does the film’s unglamorous settings, the gallery of obstructive or self-protective jobsworths (beginning with a disdainful Polish bureaucrat), and its anger over employers’ ill-regard for foreign workers and for hazardous or otherwise inhumane working conditions.

Such Loach films as Riff-Raff, The Navigators, It’s a Free World…, and Sorry, We Missed You are tougher on these issues, but that’s not to denigrate Domaleski’s potent coming of age story. Ora’s growing sense of social outrage urges her to overcome her selfishness and rally to the defence of Sara, who’s not only being mauled by her male hairdresser boss but might be carrying Ora’s unborn step-sibling. There are no extras on Eureka!’s Blu-ray, but should I Never Cry’s director and now 22-year-old star progress as expected, it’ll be worth watching again.

Ora is not a rabbit in the headlights, but a streetsmart kid blessed with resourcefulness and fearlessness


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters