New to Netflix today is the Polish romantic comedy-drama, The Taming of the Shrewd (aka Poskromienie złośnicy). The film – from director Anna Wieczur-Bluszcz – stars Magdalena Lamparska and Mikolaj Roznerski, and tells the story of a somewhat abrasive scientist who falls for a man paid to romance her.
In the movie, Kaśka is a research scientist living in the US, who is deeply in love with her boyfriend. However, that same boyfriend is having an affair – something Kaśka discovers when she catches him in the act.
Upset over the infidelity, Kaśka decides to get away from it all and heads back to her home town in Podhale, Poland, to reconnect with her family and build an apiary. However, she arrives just as her brother Jędruś is in the middle of an important land deal, throwing a spanner in the works for his plans.
Jędruś thought there would be no problems selling the land, as Kaśka was out of sight, but as his sister has co-ownership, her relocation means the deal is likely to fall through. That is unless he can find a way to convince her to sell up.
Cue Patryk: a handsome man who is paid a sum of money to woo Kaśka and convince her to give up the land. But although Patryk agrees to take on the job, he soon finds himself falling for Kaśka, which further complicates the situation.
Based on William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, which in turn has been remade and reworked on screen multiple times in the past, The Taming of the Shrewd is a bright, breezy, and somewhat whimsical retelling of the classic story. It takes the initial idea, updates it for a contemporary audience, and adds in plenty of comedy.
However, while The Taming of the Shrewd is fine and certainly watchable, it’s not particularly remarkable, and it’s certainly not the best adaptation of the Shakespeare play. If you’ve never watched any version of The Taming of the Shrew before, but you are keen to see a modern account played out to perfection, then take my advice, and check out 1999’s teen comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You instead, as this is a much better version.
But while 10 Things is the definitive take on this story (at least for me anyway), The Taming of the Shrewd is OK for what it is. The cast put in solid performances, especially Magdalena Lamparska as Kaśka, and the film hits all the right beats it needs to.
Sure, it is mostly the well-worn story that is driving this picture, but all of the elements are here and this keeps everything held together. The movie benefits from its beautiful setting (i.e. the Polish mountains), which make this whole thing look very picturesque, and it is packed with heart.
The film also understands how to upsell the comedy when required, inserting some fun characters who add a little bit of regional flavour to proceedings. This is then juxtaposed against the more serious love story, which creates a good balance of humour and drama.
So, The Taming of the Shrewd works as intended and some will find enjoyment in it; but keep in mind there is a better version of this story out there. With more pizzazz and a cracking performance from the late Heath Ledger in the aforementioned 10 Things I Hate About You, I’m not sure why anyone would ultimately favour this film over that one.
But yeah… it’s alright.