All These Sleepless Nights (Marczak, 2016)

All These Sleepless Nights is a weird hybrid of documentary and artifice, dealing with real Polish youth and their restlessness while all the while being shot and acted as though it were a fictional narrative. Considering these kids are not playing characters, and 95% of this film seems like a filmed record of their existence over the course of a year, I’m going to err on the side of documentary. A few scenes were definitely staged for this, like when Krzysztof walks through a surreal-looking traffic jam, but for the most part, one can easily see a lot of this film happening out in real time. You may not realise it while watching it, though, and that’s part of the film’s conceit.

I’m not especially fond of this, however. I think it’s because Krzysztof’s friend, Michal, was more intriguing as a person. Krzysztof comes across as too ordinary: the typical self-destructive type who likes chasing girls and partying hard. His only distinctive trait is his hyena-like laugh, which grates on the ears very quickly. Michal, from what we see of him, feels worth spending time with. He’s quieter in a lot of ways, and probably more of an intellectual than Krzysztof. Or, at the very least, the film could’ve taken Krzysztof’s and Michal’s perspectives equally so that the latter doesn’t completely drop away once the inevitable tiff between them comes about.

The shapelessness of this didn’t bother me as much, although there came a point halfway through where I wondered if this was going to build to something. It doesn’t. Not that it needs to, of course, but it doesn’t completely justify spending its time with Krzysztof, either. Like others of his ilk, the kid hungers for purpose, luxuriates in decadence, makes some bad decisions, and ends the film a bit worse off than he starts it. I guess the director is trying to prove that Krzysztof is representative of most youth in Poland, and that’s fine. It doesn’t make this a better film, but it’s fine.