The Debt (1999)

“I did a terrible thing.”

Set in Poland, the film The Debt (Dlug ) is based on a true story and concerns two young men Adam Borecki (Robert Gonera) and Stefan Kowalczyk (Jacek Borcuch) who have a great idea. They have a contract that permits them to sell Italian mopeds in Poland, but there’s only one problem. They lack financing. In one scene, they meet with a bank official who tells them that everything looks great, but that doesn’t mean they can get credit. Frustrated and depressed, they bump into an old acquaintance of Stefan’s, Gerard Nowak (Andrzej Chyra) who tells them he may have an investor. Desperate for cash, Adam and Stefan don’t heed a few warning signals, and they discuss their plan with Gerard. He offers them financing, but the terms are outrageous. Gerard begins extorting large sums of money from the two men for expenses he supposedly absorbed on their behalf.

Adam and Stefan’s lives soon spiral out-of-control as the brutish Gerard and his bodyguard, Junior demand payment. With $1000 a day interest added to the outstanding sum Gerard claims he’s owed, it becomes impossible to repay the debt. Adam and Stefan have few options and they are all unpleasant.

This is a tale of two young men who just want to get ahead in a capitalist system, but don’t meet the necessary criteria to qualify for financing their dream. This situation opens them up to exploitation from a ruthless Russian gangster, and once they’ve become his victims, he is reluctant to let them escape–dragging them deeper and deeper into a maze of debt, violence and crime. The Debt is an intense, gripping drama, and as Adam and Stefan’s lives unravel rapidly, the story becomes incredibly dark. Wonderful performances from the actors in this realistic crime film create a riveting atmosphere, and it’s impossible to peel one’s eyes away from the disaster that we realize must inevitably occur. On the downside, the film failed to thoroughly explain exactly how Stefan knows Gerard, and it remains unclear if Stefan was at all aware of Gerard’s less-than-savory ‘business’ ventures. This chilling film, directed by Krzysztof Krauze is in Polish with English subtitles.

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Filed under Crime, Poland

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