Sundance Review: Prime Time

Today, anyone who wishes to publicly air their thoughts, opinions or grievances can easily do so at the touch of a button. The internet has afforded us all a soapbox. A place where we can be whoever you want. Say whatever we feel. The likes of YouTube, Tik Tok, Instagram et al have given everyone a voice, for good or ill. At the turn of the century, the only outlet to do this was television. Prime Time follows one such mini revolt.

New Year’s Eve, 1999. As the clocks count-down to midnight, in the TV studio they’re preparing for their last broadcast of the year. However, things aren’t going to plan when the host, Mira Kryle (Magdalena Poplawska), arrives with just a few minutes to spare. That’s when Sebastian (Bartosz Bielenia) storms the set, brandishing a gun and demanding to go out live to thenation. When he takes the presenter and a security guard (Andrzej Klak) hostage, those in charge are slow to respond.

Prime Time is a tense and intelligent period thriller which takes aim at the conceit of live TV and the incompetence of those who run networks. Jakub Piatek’s feature debut works because of a brilliant central performance from Bielenia, who follows up his award-winning turn in Corpus Christi with one which is even better. Prime Time’s lack of a clear message works in its favour. This isn’t some slick and stylish Hollywood thriller but one which reflects the confusion of its protagonist. The need to say something, but not sure why or what.

Prime Time screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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