The Pianist
2003
Famed Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman struggles to survive the onslaught of Nazi tyranny during World War II in this drama based on his memoirs. In spite of his well-known talent, Szpilman spends several years holed up in Warsaw, clinging to life.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

The full emotional impact of this film doesn't come until nearly two hours in, with a long shot of its title character scurrying back over the wall into the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto, when the full scope of the loss is finally plainly visible. This movie is not nearly as grand as 'Schindler's List' and its lead not as decent: He's not a samaritan, not a hero, just a man trying to survive. Brody defines his aloof character with nuance, and Polanski's rhythms could be timed with a clock. It's a fine, very personal cap to the career of one of the great living directors.

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