When you set your romance against the most aesthetically pleasing watersport of them all — kite surfing — you’d better make sure the melodramatic story is fun, tortured, twisty and/or steamy enough to keep folks from wondering, “When’re they going to show more kite surfing?”
The Polish film “Into the Wind (Pod Wiatr)” manages nothing of the sort. A summer romance set in the resort town of Hel on the Baltic Sea, it’s a semi-conscious bore whenever we aren’t watching kite surfing — which is most of the time.
Ania has come here with her Dad (Marcin Perchuc), his new wife and their toddler. Dad’s a doctor, and Ania’s heading to med school. She’ll take over for him at his clinic someday, he figures. They’re meeting old family friends, and their lawyer-to-be son Kuba (Sebastian Kuba) is part of everybody’s “plans” for Ania (Sonia Mietielica) as well.
But expressionless Ania has watched the VW Vanagon loaded with loud, wild-haired kite surfers that passed them on the road. And she’s had about enough of Daddy’s “plans.”
The set-up suggests a cute “Nobody kite-surfs Baby in a corner” romance, something light and sexy and athletic and very photogenic, with kite-surfing taking the place of dancing.
No, what the filmmakers have in mind here is far duller — parents fooling around, Ania’s haunted past, utterly predictable “obstacles” to surfer-hunk Michal’s (Jakub Sasak) love connection with the pretty, unsmiling rich girl who comes to him for lessons.
Mietielica is almost expressionless in this movie, which could be her attempt to play deflated, grief-stricken and morose. There’s never a light moment in her performance. One can read more into it as there’s a sex scene almost as joyless as everything else in “Into the Wind.” Perhaps she was so bothered by the jarring, slo-motion seduction – nudity-included, hers — that she couldn’t summon up much of a smile about anything else.
That scene plays as both somewhat tender and exploitative, seeing how PG or PG-13 everything is leading up to it and following it.
But at least the kite surfing is as athletic and striking as you’d hope. Who knew there was surfing of any sort on the Baltic?
Rating: TV-MA, nudity, sex, drug use
Cast: Sonia Mietielica, Jakub Sasak, Marcin Perchuc, Sebastian Dela, Waleria Gorobets, with Bitimania and Wojciech Gassowski
Credits: Kristoffer Rus, scripted by Julian Kijowski. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:48