A wonderful discovery from Poland, the compelling and exciting crime drama ‘Sara’ shares quite a few similarities with Luc Besson’s hugely popular 1994 hit ‘The Professional’ (both hit-men are called Leon, and both have tragic backstories). But while ‘Sara’ may be far less stylish, it does have more realism to it, and like ‘Leon’, superb performances from its two lead characters.
When a powerful crime lord is set upon by his cold-blooded enemies, he hires alcoholic ex-commando; Leon (Boguslaw Linda), to protect his beautiful 16 year old daughter Sara (Agnieszka Wlodarczyk). Despite being much older, the rebellious but professional Leon soon finds himself falling in love with Sara, who has already confessed her love for him. While hiding their relationship from Sara’s mob father, it’s only a matter of time before he finds out, leaving Leon fighting both his bosses enemies and the boss himself.
While there are a number of exciting and violent action scenes laced throughout, the movie’s biggest asset is the human drama angle, as we witness Leon and Sara’s budding relationship grow. While their age gap is nearly 25 years, you do get the sense that these two souls really do need each other. What doesn’t always ring true are some of the gangster characters, who are a bit clichéd and generic, but this does not detract from the real heart of the story.
Hugely talented Polish star Boguslaw Linda is terrific as the world-weary Leon, who’s brought back to life by the youthfulness of Sara’s carefree nature. Linda had scored earlier hits with the superb drama ‘Blind Chance’ (’87), and the 1992 action favourite ‘Pigs’. As Sara, Agnieszka Wlodarczyk made her screen debut here and is excellent throughout, showing both attitude and emotion in equal measures. Wlodarczyk has continued to work steadily since this impressive debut, though mainly in television. Also good was Cezary Pazura as one the the mob bosses many heavies. Director Maciej Slesicki handles the action and drama well, and had earlier directed Boguslaw Linda in the award-winning family drama ‘Tato’ (’95).
I loved the ending here where, in a memorable slow-motion filled final scene, Sara shields Leon from a hail of bullets (I won’t spoil what happens next!). This finale easily rates in my top 5 movie endings ever!
A simple love story wrapped beneath a (sometimes) rough and ready action flick, ‘Sara’ is a lovely surprise and one of those rare movies that instantly becomes a cult favourite for the viewer. A winner from start to finish.