Johnny (2022) Review – paying homage to the late Father Jan Kaczkowski

By Jessica Fontaine
Published: March 23, 2023 (Last updated: March 28, 2023)


Paying homage to the late Father Jan Kaczkowski, Johnny highlights his kindness toward those who need help, even as he struggles.

We review the 2022 Polish Netflix film Johnny, which does not contain spoilers.

Johnny is a Polish drama film on Netflix. Directed by Daniel Jaroszek, it stars Dawid Ogrodnik, Piotr Trojan, Beata Zygarlicka, Maria Pakulnis, and Grazyna Bulka.

The film follows a criminal named Patryck who must complete community service hours at Father Jan’s hospice center. The two become friends, and Patryck’s life changes for the better, thanks to Father Jan’s guidance.

Johnny is based on the life of Father Jan Kaczkowski, who passed away in 2016.

Johnny (2022) Review and Plot Summary

Johnny opens with a criminal, Patryk, engaging in acts like drugs and robbery with his gang. He’s contrasted by a priest, Father Jan, who visits terminally ill patients.

He opens a hospice center but learns he has cancer and has half a year to live. His last wish is for his hospice to run smoothly and for people to get their needed help.

For community service hours instead of jail time, Patryck must work at Jan’s hospice center. While fixing things around the place, he must avoid Pablo, to whom he owes money.

He also meets a patient, a young mother named Agnieszka, and helps her make a video for her son in an emotional scene. We start to see Patryck’s criminal attitude shift as he becomes more empathetic toward others.

The characters are likable enough, as Patryck and Jan become friends, and Jan gives him advice on how to live his life. Patryck continues caring for patients and helping staff.

Although we see Patryck’s kindness come to light, one hospice patient, Mr. Roman, believes he can’t change, and a thief will always be a thief.

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However, Patryck convinces us that he wants to be better. We side with him because we see his humanity and root for his redemption.

While Johnny does good work in hospice, he’s afraid that the court will unsuspend his sentence and he’ll go to prison. Further, he owes a man money and fears being killed if he can’t pay off his debt. Regardless, Father Jan continues to support him and helps him turn his life around.

Johnny does a good job of conveying how people can be afraid of their past, even when they are actively working to make up for it.

Is the 2022 Polish movie Johnny good?

If it were just a fiction movie, Johnny would have a lot of clichés, especially when Jan gives Johnny advice on how to change and be less angry. It would be predictable in that Patryck changes his ways and transitions from a heartless criminal to a person who appreciates those around him.

However, it’s not just a fictional film. It strives to be real and accurate to what Father Jan did for others.

Johnny succeeds in conveying to us the messages that Father Jan wanted everyone to hear. One of them is that time is the most important thing we can give each other.

Johnny also succeeds because it tells us the hard truths we don’t want to believe. As Patryck said toward the film’s beginning, life is never fair. Every day is judgment day.

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This is true when it comes to Father Jan, who unfairly suffered from cancer despite being a good person who helped others.

The film conveys how people may always be viewed as criminals even when they legitimately change, as Johnny struggles to convince people he is becoming a better person. We also see the sacrifices of Jan, who strives to improve the lives of others even when his own is declining.

Johnny does right by the late father, Jan, urging others to appreciate the time they have.

What did you think of the 2022 Polish Netflix film Johnny? Comment below.

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