W Jak Morderstwo (In for a Murder) is set in a quaint little suburban neighbourhood in Podkowa Lesna, Poland. In many films/series, this all-consuming quiet is often a front for sinister happenings. We saw this in WandaVision. We saw this in Why Women Kill. Many, many films have reminded us that all is not necessarily well in your garden-variety friendly-family neighbourhood.
Similarly, when we first see Magda (Anna Smolowik) happily buying vegetables and fruits from her local farmers and cycling away to a bustling tune, we wait for the proverbial ball to drop. And sure enough, it happens when we get introduced to her husband Tomasz (Przemysław Stippa), an unpleasant man. Within minutes, he turns into a despicable presence in the film, and it is Magda’s friends, Inspector Sikora (Pawel Domagala) and Elka (Olga Sarzynska), who keep the smile on her face intact.
If not for the charming performance of Anna, the chirpiness of Magda might have come through as being too facetious, considering what she faces at home. But In for a Murder is not just about Magda’s marital problems. As the title suggests, it is about a murder, and it is how Magda puts on her Agatha Christie hat to solve a neighbourhood crime that has a sinister connection to her own past.
For every interesting moment, there are two dull ones in In for a Murder. Whenever Magda’s phone rings to the sound of the Pink Panther theme, it feels enjoyable. But then, it gets followed by developments that aren’t necessarily enjoyable. Supporting characters are shockingly one-note, and the unravelling of the mystery is neither organic nor surprising. As we get introduced to the suspects, unlike in an Agatha Christie story, it’s way too easy to connect the dots here. However, all this isn’t to say that In for a Murder is a bad film, but it is… dull. Even the undercurrent of humour needed to be amped up much higher for the film to be the dark comedy it aspires to be.
The proverbial twists and turns never really come. The murder mystery at the centre of it all doesn’t quite create intrigue, as no real investment is established with the dead person. Even the connection with Magda’s own past feels rather stretched. The investigation by Magda herself is parts inspiring and parts just sheer good fortune. She is at the right place at the right time too often in this film. This reliance on convenience to push the story forward might have worked in another genre, but in a murder mystery, it serves only as evidence of bad writing.
In for a Murder
Director: Piotr Mularuk