Adapted from his 2014 play of the same name, Henry Jaglom’s “Train to Zakopané,” shot in black-and-white, is an expanded reenactment of an uncomfortable encounter related by his father during a fateful rail trip.
Unfortunately, the ride from stage to screen proves equally bumpy.
The year is 1928, and Semyon (Mike Falkow), a successful Russian businessman en route to Warsaw, is finding himself simultaneously attracted to and repelled by Katya (Jaglom muse Tanna Frederick) a Polish nurse given to anti-Semitic rants.
Despite challenging her beliefs, Semyon finds himself unable to reveal his own Jewish identity in front of his fellow passengers, also including a Polish priest (Stephen Howard) who shares many of her sentiments, and a retired actress (Cathy Arden), all reprising their stage roles.
Even by Jaglom’s standards — he has often used relationships as fodder for his films — this is obviously personal stuff, but what may have been more forgiving in a theatrical setting is subject to greater scrutiny when projected onto a larger canvas.
Among the more glaring issues are performances that sound distractingly contemporary and obvious budget constraints that serve to suffocate the overly talky chamber piece instead of providing much-needed breathing room.
In the absence of any subtlety, Jaglom’s protracted discourse on intolerance and compassion begins losing dramatic steam long before it reaches its intended destination.
‘Train to Zakopane’
Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino