TAMING THE SHREW 2. Love in the Tatra Mountains is always an uphill battle [REVIEW]

Odys Korczyński

23 December 2023

Recently, movies about Highlanders have become quite trendy.

Recently, movies about Highlanders have become quite popular. There was “Taming the Shrew,” and now there’s another part, with another production about this ethnic minority already announced, because that’s how we should treat them – I mean the film titled “White Courage” by Marcin Koszałka, which will premiere in March 2024. From the first part of “Taming the Shrew,” I only remembered cliché dialogues, weak cinematography, and a true masterpiece in the field of special effects – CGI-animated bees. In the latest installment of the bee series, they are nowhere to be found. Several new characters have even been introduced, but is the whole able to stand out from the original? I was actually sure it wouldn’t, but a few elements unexpectedly turned out better.

First and foremost, the cinematography – now it is much more thoughtful, surprisingly often showing the mountains, even at night. There’s even a sequence of nighttime ski races – short, not entirely technically correct due to the lack of shots from a stabilized camera, but compared to other Polish mountain films, it’s a rarity. Digital technology helped a lot in this case, thanks to the high sensitivity of camera sensors. The quality of humor has also improved, especially with the introduction of an additional character – Kacper (Piotr Nerlewski) gave a new sense of purpose to Patryk (Mikołaj Roznerski), which doesn’t bode well for the main female character (Magdalena Lamparska as Kaśka), who has become almost unnecessary, as the two male heroes, Weronika (Agata Turkot), and the distinctive Jędruś (Tomasz Sapryk) and Wacuś (Piotr Cyrwus) handle things well enough. In the background, Dorota Stalińska and Sławomir Zapała complete the atmosphere. The editing is much better now, emotionally shading the film. Another advantage is the abandonment of loft settings in Warsaw, which were too often present in Polish romantic comedies. In “Taming the Shrew 2,” we mainly see the familiar areas of Podhale, still untouched by civilization. The plot is not based solely on the romantic problems of the main characters, but at least two intrigues are present, including a smuggling one. Unfortunately, the first one with the Highland kidnapping was not fully utilized. A bit more black humor was needed. Not even the bear helped. As for the quality of the bear itself, we first see its shadow, then a piece of its snout through the glass, a paw, and a distant shot. It’s hard to say what’s real and what’s created with digital technology. Generally, there’s no aesthetic genius in the appearance of the bear, but at least there’s no embarrassment like with the bees in the first part of the story.

In Polish cinema, problems often arise when we try to create a projection of a reality completely foreign to us at all costs. Unfortunately, it happened in this case. At the beginning of the film, Kaśka goes to the United States to participate in a TV program and receive an award. The creators did not attempt any interesting shots of the USA, and Patricia Kazadi appeared as the presenter in the studio of an American television station. Not to mention the quality of the show’s set, which more resembles a channel of an independent cable TV station in a small town than professional television. The simulation, therefore, did not even come out correctly, as it usually doesn’t when done on a budget. I’m not saying that taking good location shots abroad is impossible for us, but no one cares about what doesn’t fit into the rest of the production, especially when it is qualitatively better than foreign inserts. In terms of the plot, there is also a lack of any twist. The story ends conventionally. There is no space for another part of the series, which is something to be happy about because I don’t believe that the third installment would bring any revolution to the story. It would be necessary to change the style, treat the romantic comedy genre in a modern, experimental way, rather than cling desperately to templates. Unfortunately, although many things in “Taming the Shrew 2” turned out better than in the first one, it is still a cheap and mediocre romantic comedy without any ambitions, even minimal ones, to break down the doors of this genre. In conclusion, if you are going to watch this film, think about the title – where is that shrew? Where is her taming? What is it based on, because from the plot, it seems that it was necessary to tame male stubbornness, rivalry, rather than female emotions? Maybe there was some idea for the plot’s meaning in the title, but someone forgot to write it in the script? However, it should be appreciated how the culture of the Highlanders was treated with respect, saturating the story with folklore presented in moderation, not to tire the viewer, but to encourage them to learn about the ethnic traditions of Podhale residents. The film treats them as a cohesive, albeit somewhat stubborn, ethnic group, which is a sign of respect for their lives, which change and modernize for the good of them and their geographical neighbors. A smartphone, a modern pick-up, or even replacing horses with more modern means of transportation is the necessary future of the Highlander, as shown in “Taming the Shrew 2.”

Odys Korczyński

Odys Korczyński

For years he has been passionate about computer games, in particular RPG productions, film, medicine, religious studies, psychoanalysis, artificial intelligence, physics, bioethics, as well as audiovisual media. He considers the story of a film to be a means and a pretext to talk about human culture in general, whose cinematography is one of many splinters.

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