REVIEW: ‘Into The Wind’ – Polish Dirty Dancing Sans Dirty and Dancing

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Into the Wind - But Why Tho
Dirty Dancing 
has long been my favorite movie, for innumerable reasons, so when I paused Netflix Original Polish-language film Into The Wind about seven minutes into the revelation that this is basically a Polish Dirty Dancing-inspired film, my expectations were instantly transmogrified from banal to, well, everything that Dirty Dancing is. Directed by Kristoffer RusInto the Wind is the story of wealthy Warsawite Ania (Sonia Mietielica). While on vacation in Hel with her father (Marcin Perchuc), stepmother (Agnieszka Zulewska), and half-brother, when falls in love with the windsurfing everyman Michal (Jakub Sasak) who lives along the beach with his life-loving friends.

Dirty Dancing is a hard movie to compare yourself to, to be totally fair. But what makes it so incredible is that it isn’t simply a Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers type affair. It has love, it has dancing, it has class struggle, it has so much sex appeal, and it has a lot of daring. Unfortunately, while Into the Wind has inklings of some of these themes, it largely lacks in all but one of them, forging a mostly mundane story whose potential is washed away by its infirm grasp on what made its inspiration soar.

The movie definitely has love. The movie definitely has the most basic ingredients. The leads who are conventionally attractive and have just enough personality to pretend they’re pining for one another are interesting. There’s also the love interests’ spoiler, Kuba (Sebastian Dela), whose unrequited love is rather annoying but does end on a surprisingly mature foot. Unfortunately, there’s also so much discord within both Ania and Kuba’s parents’ relationships that it’s a bit distracting at times, especially the sub-plot of Kuba’s parents’ infidelities. Still, it also lends itself to one of the more poignant scenes later in the movie.

The relationship between Ania and her father, and to an extent her stepmother too, is one of the few places where the movie diverges in a mostly successful way from Dirty Dancing. Here, Ania’s mother died some years ago, and it’s put a tremendous strain on the remaining family’s relationship. Ania often turns to the hotel’s owner for sage advice in some of honestly the most enjoyable moments throughout the movie. This relationship struggle is more interesting than the central romance, which is a shame since the romance is supposed to be the point. If the movie leaned more into this than the romance, it might actually have faired better. Because again, whereas Dirty Dancing succeeds in its family dynamic because the strife is directly related to the romance, here, it is almost incidental, so it loses much of its appeal.

There’s also a large amount of exposition around the obvious wealth and privilege gap between Ania and Michal. The thing is, though, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that Michal is so disparate from her without being told it explicitly. Sure, he works several jobs and seems to live on the beach, but unlike a certain classic film, the class struggle isn’t a part of the plot, the drama, or the character development. It’s just a matter of fact. Unfortunately, without it serving as a major point of tension, it winds up superfluous.

Lastly, I’m sorry to break this to everyone, but windsurfing isn’t exactly sexy. You can’t have Dirty Dancing homage without it being sexy. That’s simply half of the point of the original movie. The constant sexual tension is shown, not told, through the dancing, the partying, and the high emotional and personal stakes that the characters go through. There is simply no plot or even antagonist in Into the Wind to speak of. Vacation begins, events transpire, one misunderstanding, one argument, and one very lackluster dramatic event occurs, and everyone gets along pretty fine the whole way through. It’s a bland set of circumstances textually and visually, unfortunately. The one element that adds some flavor is the music, which is very solid throughout the movie.

I just can’t abide by whoever thought that one scene where Ania and Michal get close together because he’s showing her how to windsurf and one awkward sex scene on the beach were enough to create tension between the main characters or anybody else around them. It feels like a very paint-by-the-numbers iteration of a formula rather than a creative attempt to pastiche a beloved and daring classic.

Into the Wind is fine, but by being so clearly a homage to a beloved and iconic film and missing the mark on nearly every element of what made the original special, it, unfortunately, has little wind beneath its wings.

Into the Wind is streaming now on Netflix.


Into the Wind
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

Into the Wind is fine, but by being so clearly a homage to a beloved and iconic film and missing the mark on nearly every element of what made the original special, it, unfortunately, has little wind beneath its wings.