In the Netflix drama Family secretsalso known by its original Polish title Gry Rodzinne (family games), a young couple’s wedding day unfolds over eight episodes filled with flashbacks, family dramas, intertwined romantic adventures, and internal friendship wars. Will Katarzyna ever walk down the aisle to marry Janek? And if that’s not her baby she’s expecting, whose is she?
Opening shot: A woman in all her wedding attire runs through a busy downtown pedestrian zone, distracted and alone. She loses and retrieves a chiffon veil. She is also pregnant.
The essence: That intersection Katarzyna, (Eliza Rycembel), also known as Kaska, was running to? It marks the place where, five years before her wedding, she met Pawel (Piotr Pacek) the day he entered medical school. In true rom-com style, he saved her from being crushed by a tram, they danced like crazy to the Scissor Sisters and locked eyes with her before laughing like it was a fluke. But Pawel is nowhere to be found today, everyone is looking at her in her wedding dress, and her sister Alicja (Malgorzata Mikolajczak) begs him to control her. Kaska definitely doesn’t shine like a bride.
In another flashback, it is seven months before the wedding. A crying Kaska is on the street after her mother Malgosia (Izabela Kuna) kicked her out, but Alicja is happy to take her in. She also vomits somewhat uncontrollably. The next day, Kaska attends a lecture on skull dissection given by Dorota (Edyta Olszowka), whose husband Emil (Pawel Delag) runs a cosmetic surgery clinic with her son Janek (Bartosz Gelner), people we’ve already seen in the present. waiting in the church for Kaska to appear.
Janek is a surgeon at her father’s clinic, but the two spend more time arguing than rhinoplasty. “You have to control your lust, Dad,” he spits out. “You’re married,” and who does Janek meet in Emil’s office if not Malgosia. Not only that, but he spots the older doctor outside the clinic, appearing to comfort a frantic Kaska. The connections between these two families are constantly revealed in the form of flashbacks, but there is still a lot of mystery about what exactly is going on. He figures in a few ancillary characters: Alicja’s rich boyfriend, who is also Janek’s best friend, Janek’s ex-model girlfriend, for whom Alicja works as a makeup artist, and Dawid, everyone’s friend who works as a drag queen, and there are Much to unpack as we meet up with Kaska in the present. She finally agreed to be taken to the church. But she is no closer to marrying Janek.
What shows will it remind you of? Netflix also presents holiday secrets, a German limited series that explores their family dynamics through the prism of the holiday season. And Peacock includes both seasons of the fantastic Irish drama. Drownabout the matriarch of a County Clare family, the evolution of her relationships with each of her daughters, and the lengths she will go to protect them from, wait for it, a family secret.
Our take: In addition to its happy flashback format, Family secrets uses the kind of handheld cameras, true close-ups, and zoom outs that have been popularized through shows like arrested development Y Modern Family. It’s a decided aesthetic touch that adds immediate gravitas to the plot, which evolves elliptically as it draws from various perspectives. In the present, at church on the day of Kaska and Janek’s wedding, we are immediately engrossed in the barbs and direct verbal detours that are thrown between Dorota and Emil, husband and wife who have been unfaithful, in the front row, even when we see Janek fidgeting by the front entrance, and guests moving sweaty and impatient on their benches. Not only that, but Dorota and Emil suddenly find themselves in an argument with the nun singing religious hymns to cover up the delayed ceremony. In the multiple scenarios that occur simultaneously in Family secretsThere’s even drama with the clergy, and the sneaky cameras and timelines capture it all.
Sex and skin: Nothing in the first episode, but there is a lot of talk about the adventures they both had and are having, and romantic partners old and new.
Parting Shot: Kaska, who finally arrived with Alicja at the church, joins Janek. But she only makes it halfway down the hall before hesitating again, stopping, turning this way and that, and finally going back the way she came.
sleeping star: At first, it is Edyta Olszowka who makes the biggest impression as Dorota, a woman who combines the icy unease of her relationship with a philandering husband with the consequences of her own extramarital activity, the demands of her professional life in medical school, and her tries to keep up the appearances of a supposedly dysfunction-free wealthy family. And although we don’t see much of him in the first episode of Family secretslook for Piotr Pacek (sexify) to make a splash as Pawel as this show’s dramas unfold.
Most of the Pilot-y line: “How about we end this farce?” Emil complains to Dorota. “She is not coming”. It’s very clear that it would be more convenient for Emil if Kaska called it off. But Dorota doesn’t let him off the hook so easily. You think you know her very well, but you don’t. You can have sex with someone for 30 years and not know anything about them.”
Our call: TRANSMIT IT. Family secrets it feels very contemporary with its narrative shifts and various levels of love life damage. It will be interesting to see who is with whom and what has finally been said out loud once the wedding day is over eight episodes from now.
Johnny Loftus is a freelance writer and editor living in Chicagoland. His work has been featured in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges