Review: Frustrating and fascinating, ‘My Friend the Polish Girl’ ponders exploitation

Aneta Piotrowska in a scene from 'My Friend the Polish Girl'
Aneta Piotrowska in a scene from “My Friend the Polish Girl.”
(Subliminal Films)

Filmmaking collaborators Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek make their directorial debut with the puzzling, uber-meta “My Friend the Polish Girl,” a depiction of one of the most spectacularly terrible and toxic friendships ever put on film, using the guise of a personal documentary as a device for this narrative feature.

Emma Friedman-Cohen costars as Katie Broughton, a filmmaker looking in vain for her film, and almost never finding it. We rarely see Katie but we hear her, often, as she films Alicja Dabrowska (Aneta Piotrowska), a Polish immigrant living in London. Katie, hoping to make a film about Brexit, or something, inserts herself into Alicja’s life as a nosy scold, attempting to provoke something, anything into happening. She scares off Alicja’s boyfriend, Michael, introduces her to some sleazy filmmakers and ultimately ends up moving in with Alicja. There are times where you have to wonder who is scamming whom in this ill-fated project.

“My Friend the Polish Girl” is at its most interesting when it’s posing questions about the relationship between Katie and Alicja. Is Katie in love with her or does she want to be her? Will her efforts ultimately destroy her, like all doppelgangers do? The film poses half-formed thoughts about femininity through the lens of nationality, immigration, work, creativity and money, but ultimately the only profound thing it manages to say is on the nature of exploitation between subject and author. A fascinating albeit frustrating sketch on the topic.

'My Friend the Polish Girl'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Starts Nov. 29, Laemmle Glendale