Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Never in my life!”: 20 years have passed since the premiere of the cult romantic comedy

In the first decade of the 21st century, people used to joke that Polish cinema lives by trends. First, viewers were fascinated by thriller and bandit stories, and their popularity began with “Psy” by Władysław Pasikowski. Later, Olaf Lubaszenko began the period of popularity of gangster comedies. These were replaced by adaptations of school readings. Romantic comedies eventually took their place, all thanks to their success “Never in my life”.

This does not mean that local creators have not experimented with this genre before. It literally happened to them twice. In 1997, Robert Gliński filmed “Love and do what you want”. Three years later they were released in cinemas “Lovers” Piotr Wereśniak. However, these films were not successful enough to encourage Polish creators to produce more representatives of this genre.

Meanwhile, “Never in a Lifetime” turned out to be an incredible attendance hit. The film based on the novel by Katarzyna Grochola was watched by 1.62 million viewers. What was the secret of Zatorski’s production?

Years later, we see that the story of Judyta – a forty-year-old divorcee who, after her husband leaves, builds a house near Warsaw, meets the man of her life and begins her second youth – was a set of plot motifs and aesthetic applications that in the future became clichés of domestic romantic comedies, as well as some drama series. Postcard scenes enchanted viewers, even though they often had little to do with reality. However, the conflict-free story developed calmly, only to be reminded in the finale that maybe it would be worth having some stakes after all.

It was also one of the first films consciously aimed mainly at a female audience. Its screenwriter, Ilona Łepkowska, openly said that she was tired of most of the productions offered to her, often created with male audiences in mind.

Dozens of actresses tried out for the role of Judyta, including Dorota Segda and Agnieszka Krukówna. Ultimately selected Danuta Stanka. However, the actress recalled that initially the producers wanted to cast a younger actress. They did not pay attention to the fact that Stenka was then the age of bookish Judyta. However, her candidacy was supported by Grochola, which ensured the actress’s employment.

Some people blamed the actress who played the main role, then associated primarily with the dramatic repertoire, for appearing in a commercial production. It should be noted, however, that Judyta’s role was unique for the Polish market. No wonder that the biggest stars tried to appear in “Polish Bridget Jones”.

Back in 2005, there was no indication that a breakthrough had taken place. However, only a year later, the continuation of Judyta’s adventures titled “I’ll show you!” was released in cinemas, made with new creators and an almost completely new cast, as well as “Only love me” with Zatorski behind the camera. The director made “Why not” in the next season. The number of romantic comedies began to increase, and some of their elements quickly became the butt of jokes – such as posters with white backgrounds or recurring leads.

Polish romantic comedies accompany us to this day. I have never been a fan of “Never Again!”, but I will not deny that, in a sense, it was a breakthrough film for our cinema.