Film and TV

Youth Runs Free in Michal Marczak's Wild, Wheeling All These Sleepless Nights

Youth Runs Free in Michal Marczak's Wild, Wheeling All These Sleepless Nights
Courtesy of the Orchard

Too propulsively aimless to be anything other than life, but too fluid in its photography and precise in its compositions to be documentary, Michal Marczak’s pulsing youth-right-now dazzler whirls with two real-life friends (Krzysztof Baginski and Michal Huszcza, playing themselves) and their occasional lovers through a year and a half of vivid Warsaw nights. As Marczak’s camera bobs and glides behind and around them, the young men dash through the streets, duck through subway tunnels, watch fireworks from an apartment, fall for and then shake off young women and occasionally even vault drug-fueled through the daytime world, so blissed out they say things like, “How cool would it be to say ‘good morning’ to everyone?”

Warsaw is their playground, their thumping club, their persistent high. Krzysztof sprints across the hoods of parked police cars, setting their sirens off, and the thrill of this stunt is compounded by its realness, by that early-a.m. sense of a sleeping city belonging only to you and your most restless friends. Above all, this crowd dances, at clubs and in flats, on the beach and through traffic, to blunted electro hip hop that seems less the music they like than the element they inhabit.

Those beats, looping and hypnotic, are probably layered in for the film, which uses very little natural sound — boom mics would have cut against these kids’ ability to ignore the film crew. But the roiling party we witness here is real, the non-principals not extras but kids who were there, losing themselves in nights that come to blend together. No matter what’s staged and what’s “real,” the film courses with the thrill of the truth of their liberation.

There is a narrative. Roommates Krzysztof and Michal gab and dance and so fully fill out each other’s worlds that you might hope that they’ll be the ones to hook up. Then Krzysztof spends the night with Eva (the effervescent Eva Lebuef), Michal’s ex, and the Jules et Jim connection becomes even more explicit. When that fling surges into something more — Krzysztof says he’s at last found “a girl who constantly makes me feel this challenge of how great I have to be in order to be with a girl like her” — the besties drift apart. After much cheery, silly sex play, Eva and Krzysztof drift apart, too; the final act finds Krzysztof and his crew daring more drugs, trying out new lovers and thinking out loud about the moment they’ve been living.

“I can’t recall a more important time,” Krzysztof says, and we can give him the benefit of the doubt on that: Marczak has captured the specifics of these young folks as they reel through a city that’s been born again, but the film should stir something true in the chest of anyone who ever was lucky enough to run free in their youth, even if only for a night.
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Alan Scherstuhl is film editor and writer at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
Contact: Alan Scherstuhl