Strong Coffee Isn’t That Bad
Strong Coffee Isn’t That Bad (2014) is a creative short from director and writer Aleksander Pietrzak. He based his creation on the book and play titled Mending Fences (2007) by Norm Foster, a story about a son and father who have not kept in touch and have had a tumultuous relationship. This film has been widely shown at numerous film festivals and has won awards including the “Bridging The Borders Award” at the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles.
The film is visually stimulating with beautiful scenes of the Polish countryside. Pietrzak uses long drawn out takes to capture the honesty of both the landscape and the interactions between the characters. This approach creates a genuine quality to the film and captures the capabilities of the actors. The music of this film is quite playful, a sort of Django Rienhardt “hot” jazz guitar theme that embraces the light-hearted moments of the story. It also helps to balance out the awkward moments and tension between Jack and Lucas, the father and son of the story.
The film presents us from Jack’s point of view, as a father who never really knew how to be close to his son. We get to experience his attempts at trying to talk with Lucas in a normal way but also see his struggles to prove that he is a good man, perhaps a better man than his son. There is a definite push and pull of emotion throughout the duration of this film that keeps us on our toes. As the film progresses Jack and Lucas take jabs at each other and they slowly become more serious as the lightheartedness of Lucas’ visit wears off until it culminates in total disagreement.
Will Jack and Lucas be able to overcome their differences to have a better relationship, or are they just too similar? Pietrzak gives us the answer while leaving room for our own imaginations. This film examines those complicated relationships that we are all too familiar with and reminds us that it is never too late to take the first step.
Reviewed by Shelly Lay