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Review: Henry Jaglom’s ‘Train to Zakopané' betrays its stage origins

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Tanna Frederick and Mike Falkow in the movie “Train to Zakopané.”
(Rainbow Releasing)

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.

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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.

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‘Train to Zakopane’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino

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