Opening in Poznan 1986 ambitious Citizens Militia officer Andrzej Baran (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) is met by his wife Jola (Lena Góra) as he warns of a would be illegal street foreign currency dealer that she’s likely being watched by agents. Not a massive issue just gives a glimpse that Poland while under pressure to reform is still very much a police state.

Back behind his desk Andrzej is given the plum job of investigating the robbery of a religious artefact from a cathedral. His initial investigations with the help of the church and local police trundle along: The former not that co-operative the latter feeling out of their depth. As it turns out the burglars are arrested and the case abruptly closes.

However Andrzej is convinced that there is more to the case so he begins an investigation that treads on the toes of the higher ups in the Militia, the church and has affects closer to home.

What starts out a police procedural written and directed by Sebastian Buttny becomes, either bogged down with a dense conspiracy between church and state for power, or a devilishly complex story of state and church seeking to maintain influence during a very delicate time in Polish society, that despite communism is still a devout Catholic country. The viewer will decide.

What can’t be denied is that Buttny has a grasp of the interlocking dynamics of the political, police and church machinations of that time. Even with this being a very Polish history centric story, the potential for a gripping political thriller and intrigue is there. But the pace of the film is staid and stodgy with the actors (all very good) dragging the story along with them. The end result is a worthy, possibly important film, that feels laboured and earnest.

Saint was screened at the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival 2024 which is taking place in venues across London until 28 March 2024.

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