Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” is the director’s finest achievement, and elevates Adrien Brody (Oscar win for Best Actor 2002) to eminence in his representation of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who survived the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. Polanski himself was orphaned as a 7 year-old boy during the bombing of Warsaw; he escaped through a hole in a barbed wire fence. Polanski uses his familiarity with the horrific subject matter in an unsentimental way to depict an occupation that diminished 10,000 Polish Jews living in Warsaw to 20 over a period of four years. Based on Szpilman’s memoir, which was suppressed by Poland’s Communist government for 53-years, “The Pianist” follows Szpilman from his job as a pianist for Polish radio, to separation with his family, and into a long period of desperate hiding. The muted heroism of Szpilman’s survival flashes as a fragile and determined pulse in Adrien Brody’s magnificently understated performance.
Rated R. 149 mins. (A+) (Five Stars)