Johnny review: Emotional drama defies its potential

Johnny follows a troubled young man’s journey from being a regular offender to a changed, improved man, all thanks to a priest most unusual in his demeanor and ability to empathize with the downtrodden and the outcasts.


Patryk is a repeat offender and during one of his escapes after breaking into a house, he’s pinned down by the owner and eventually sent to prison. His sentence is later cut short and he’s ordered by the court for 360 hours of community service.

He ends up at the St. Padre Pio Hospice, run by the most unusual priest Jan Kaczkowski. A premature birth had introduced Jan to the world in quite a feeble state, which would go on to inflict him with certain long-term problems.

However, even with dire eyesight and weak legs, Jan perseveres through most problems with his utmost sincerity and sense of humor. Along with his usual priest business, he also helps the terminally ill and employs the help of the troubled and outcast teens from vocational school who he also helps.

Under his guidance and supervision, and with his approach to tending to the terminally ill spending their last days, Patryk gradually improves his life on many accounts. He makes mistakes too, a couple of times, but Jan comes to the rescue time and again, while also suffering a terminal condition of his own.

As Patryk begins the next phase of his life, Father Jan succumbs to his condition, passing on to the afterlife and leaving behind a legacy of empathy and compassion tragically uncommon in contemporary times.

Before Johnny rolls the credits, a montage shows the real-life Jan Kaczkowski’s documented moments and the real-life Patryk Galewski and his family.


Dawid Ogrodnik plays the priest Jan Kaczkowski with a commendable amount of precision to the mannerisms and quirks that the real-life figure exhibited in his daily speech. However, while the lisps and the expressions might be to the point, Ogrodnik’s overt use of the stutter can appear rather quirky.

Playing the other lead, Piotr Trojan does just as commendable a job as the misguided, troubled, but essentially kind person. There is a real vulnerability, and a sense of authenticity in whatever state of mind Patryk is in, and Piotr nails all of it brilliantly.

The supporting staff is filled with actors who all deliver competent performances, often offering some of the more heart-wrenching moments of the movie.


The casting for Johnny is one of its greatest strengths, as almost everyone on the roster brings their A-game to the table and helps render all the different characters with the depth, emotions, and dimensions they deserve.

Jan Kaczkowski is the kindest man and his unrelenting quest for empathy and compassion is one that is bound to touch the viewer in some capacity. The film does a great job portraying these qualities of the priest in a manner that’s not too preachy, which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with preaching said values.


The needle drops are quite often misplaced and at different points throughout the movie, abruptly detract from the emotional flow of a scene. Whenever a heavy scene plays out, it isn’t allowed to breathe and quickly gets informed by a song in the background.

The cinematography is also rather confusing at times, and the tacky camera movements at the start and throughout the whole affair can come off as something one would find in a music video.

Piotr and Żaneta’s love story isn’t given nearly the amount of screen time it required to grow and later develop with a pace both organic and not too hasty.


While it has its moments and succeeds in tugging at the heartstrings in a couple of instances, Johnny does so thanks to the exceptional real-life people and stories it’s based on, as well as the lead performances, while most of the technical execution feels sorely lacking in ingenuity or contemplation.

Johnny review: Emotional drama defies its potential 1

Director: Daniel Jaroszek

Date Created: 2023-03-23 12:30

Editor's Rating:

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