Polish underworld story, with plenty of blood and *****; almost as if Guy Ritchie made Dynasty.
If you like European drama but would prefer it to be more sleazy than artsy, Patryk Vega’s Kobiety Mafii may well satisfy your needs. As the English title Women of Mafia suggests, this is a story of gangsters, with a focus on the female angles (and often curves).
Although none of the women concerned are at the tops of their organizations or families, they certainly have influence and tales to tell. Bela (Olga Boladz) is an undercover detective sent to infiltrate a major crime family, though falls for a son of the family. Anya (Katarzyna Warnke) is the man’s wife, and Daria (Agnieszka Dygant) their son’s nanny. Then there is Futro (Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz), the reckless daughter of the Don; and Siekiera (Aleksandra Poplawska), in love with another of the Don’s sons, who persuades him to run away from that life as a protected witness.
Yes, that does sound like a lot of plot strands for one film, and even though it is well over two hours long, none of them (plot strands nor characters) have any depth. Some might say this should have been a TV mini-series instead, but it was actually so popular that there is a TV series as well! The characters (male and female) are the epitome of two-dimensional, and none of them need to think very hard. To be honest, it’s a wonder this Mokotowska crime family is so successful.
But Kobiety Mafii is loads of fun! It’s coarse, superficial, silly without being funny and is full of both men and women who are strip-club gorgeous (as well as thugs, of course). The film is wordy, but the dialogue is simple (and clean) enough that a twelve-year-old could follow the subtitles; though there is so much sex (often rough) and such extreme violence that I wouldn’t want my son to accidentally walk in on the film.
Like the old TV series Widows, you mustn’t assume the female focus means Kobiety Mafii is a feminist film: not at all: Daria may turn out to be surprisingly badass, but none of them are role-models as such. Virtually every character is fallible, getting either laughed at or looked down on by the writers.
Women of Mafia may require a whole evening of your time, but it’s an evening when you won’t have to think much, except to grin or ask “what the Hell?” at the screen. And then at the end, you’ll read “Kobiety Mafii will return.” Yes, this is the first part of an intended trilogy: enjoy!
Alice has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.