Autumn Girl review – monotonous biopic lacking any drama or depth

By Adam Lock
Published: March 8, 2022 (Last updated: February 5, 2024)
Netflix film Autumn Girl


A film that somehow manages to make the story of a sex symbol fighting misogyny in the sixties into a tedious drag. This is a strange and stilted production where nothing really happens.

This review of the Netflix film Autumn Girl does not contain spoilers.

For a film intentionally released on International Women’s Day, this Polish biography about sexism in the sixties is lacking in any real female identity or empowerment. The musical centers on film and music icon Kalina Jedrusik, who is referred to as the Polish Marilyn Monroe. She’s a scandalous celebrity in prudish sixties Europe, who dresses provocatively and sings openly about sex. Kalina’s new boss bans her from any future TV appearances due to public complaints and she struggles to reclaim her career.

Kalina is introduced as a foul-mouthed addict, who eats what she wants, sleeps with whoever she wants, chain-smokes, and drinks far too much. She’s the life and soul of any party, presented as a talented singer with heaps of charisma. Sounds fun right? Unfortunately, this film is devoid of anything even close to resembling entertainment. It takes around 45 minutes before we get to the real crux of this tedious drama. Having turned down Ryszard ‘Rysiek’ Molski’s forceful advances, the new head of TV entertainment halts all Kalina’s future performances. In addition, she is banned from stepping foot on any of the studio’s many premises. The Polish star is, for all intents and purposes, canceled.

Rysiek’s domineering advances encapsulate the culture of the time. Women are seen as nothing more than objects. Men in positions of power believe they can have whoever they want. People only talk of Kalina’s looks and sexuality, nothing about her singing talents. The industry is rife with cheating, male dominance, and shocking examples of sexism. Kalina uses this sexuality to her advantage though, flirting with anyone to get what she wants. Husband Stas (writer Stanislaw Dygat) even allows Kalina to have her toy boy, the young lover Lucek, live in their house. Historians may see Kalina as a feminist, who fought for her right to be promiscuous, yet the film doesn’t seem concerned with any of this, brushing over many finer points. It’s lacking in most areas, but I’ve never watched a biography where you learn so little about the main character.

This is a truly odd affair. There are random musical numbers, but it doesn’t feel like a musical. It’s a genuine, real-life biography of a sex symbol, yet there’s no depth. The film doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of any of these major themes of sexism or feminism. The pacing is slow, the dialogue is stale, nothing actually happens. Bizarre or dull scenes just feel like filler to bulk out the running time. The only faint positive I can muster is an agreeable performance from lead actress Maria Debska, who tries her best to claw some dignity from the lackluster script. An undeniable waste of time and resources.

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