Historical retellings need to stay within the confines of fact, so they to follow a bit of a formula. There’s nothing wrong with a formula — there’s a reason why bakers follow recipes. Little Rose tells the story of a woman forced to spy on a professor suspected of conspiring against the Communist party in place in post WWII Poland. And it tells it by-the-numbers, from a preassembled kit of spy films and fascist European assembly kits. It’s a damn fine film, with solid acting and decent enough story, but it’s nothing astonishing or revolutionary. This particular aspect of history — the communist stranglehold over the intellegencia of the revolutionaries and students — has been told before, but never to my recollection in 1960’s Poland. Again, the risk of basing your tale in solid fact is that it kind of pins you like a collector’s butterfly from going really wild with your storytelling and adventuring. However, if this had been shot in Hollywood with Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, it would be earning accolades and breaking the bank at the box-office. But as a foreign film from a country not known for its illustrious filmic output, it’ll probably languish unheard of except by scholars and film buffs seeking its particular niches. Which is a shame, because it’s really a decent effort on the part of filmmaker Jan Kidawa-Blonski.
Kamila Sakowicz (Magdalena Boczarska) is a young and beautiful secretary at the university where renowned scholar Adam Warczewski (Andrezj Seweryn) teaches. Kamila is madly in love with her fiance, the secretive Roman Rozek (Robert Wieckiewicz), who turns out to be a secret police officer of the Communist party tasked with ferreting out dissidents. Rozek tasks Kamila with infiltrating the professor’s circle of confederates and filing reports on his anti-government doings. Kamila gives herself the codename “Little Rose,” and as a beautiful blonde she easily worms her way into Adam’s confidence.
And the rest of the film spools out as you would expect. She quickly becomes a part of the recently widowed professor’s life and that of his young daughter. She begins to learn about the anti-Communist movement and to temper her reports so they seem less inflammatory. The professor begins to trust her and pulls her deeper into the movement, while falling in love. Kidawa-Blonski makes sure to fill every fifteen minutes with a gratuitous sex scene: first between Roman and Kamila, and then eventually between Adam and Kamila as they begin to fall for one another. She fucks! And spies! And fucks and fucks and spies! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Spy, spy, spy! The Polish Anti-Communist Show!
Again, a film dedicated to the way the communist leadership eventually banished their intellectuals, artists, and students because they fomented the dangerous revolution is nothing new, even when delving into the movement in Poland specifically. There’s the same shots of snowy trains with weeping peasants bidding farewells to their families, the similar settings of long tables of bearded men in uniforms listening to recorded conversations and hiring spies to infiltrate the troublemakers, and even the same shots of protest speeches and students getting beaten with rubber hoses by Gestapo-like forces. Little Rose was like watching a terrifically-acted History Channel presentation. Solid, informative, interesting, and even a bit titillating, but nothing that will blow your mind. However, if you are a fan of watching historical films or a scholar of the Iron Curtain type epoch, then by all means, watch it and enjoy.