A Polish series that breaks the usual patterns. “Thaw” already on HBO Max

A captivating story, an interesting cast and breaking the patterns we are used to – this is how you can describe the new HBO Max series entitled “Thaw” directed by Xawery Żuławski

A body of a young woman is fished out of the Odra River. The case ends up in the hands of policewoman Katarzyna Zawieja (Katarzyna Wajda), who quickly learns that the story is more complicated than it might seem at first glance. Just before her death, the victim gave birth to a child. And it is precisely to find a newborn that becomes the main goal of a determined policewoman. Of course, she does not work alone – she is partnered by a sympathetic younger aspirant Trepa (Bartlomiej Kotschedoff).

A still from the “Thaw” series (2022) Press materials / HBO Max

It must be admitted that it is difficult for this heroine to keep pace, which is what Trepa often finds out about. In an interview, Kotschedoff draws attention to the special and quite unusual (for this type of series) role of his hero.

– My hero brings relief and light. It balances the difficult qualities of this dark world, says the actor. However, the actor likes his protagonist and in this he feels close to him. – It has happened so many times in my life that the sense of humor was triggered in extreme situations. I like tragicomedy, it somehow portrays my character. 

” The Thaw ” can be watched by HBO Max viewers in 61 countries in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. All the more happy is the fact that the production in a non-standard way takes on a police series in which we used to follow the fate of brave policemen, not policewomen. This time, however, the strong and charismatic heroine follows the trail of the murderer, and to make it even more interesting, in her determination she can even be irritating, because she contradicts the expectations that the viewer instinctively makes towards the female protagonist.

Yes, Zawieja can be annoying when she forgets about her parental responsibilities. However, thanks to this, she gains a certain authenticity and truth, and at the same time makes herself known to us not only as a policewoman, but also a woman with a scratch, a woman looking for the truth about herself and her life. And if we add an empathetic policeman by her side, who takes Zawieja’s daughter by the hand and takes care of her when her mother gives her 100% dedication to the case, we get an image at least intriguing with its freshness. In short: this “Thaw” effectively melts away stereotypes.

– We have a strong, imaginative story of a thirty-year-old woman who could be any of us, who fights for every ordinary day – says Xawery Żuławski, the director of the series. – I feel a strong imperative of this story. As the one who has lost something and someone, as the one who has committed the sin of inattention towards someone and himself. And as the one who knows and believes that nothing is given to us forever.

On the one hand, the heroine could be any of us, on the other – she perfectly portrays a woman’s struggle in the patriarchal world. Katarzyna Zawieja, despite her immersion in the police world dominated by men, seems not to succumb to attempts to arrange her or even subordinate her. She is as strong and charismatic as the strong and charismatic men in this type of film have been so far. Bartek Kotschedoff admits in our podcast that this female story was something that led everyone during the work on the series and says directly: “Zawieja was a synonym of women’s struggles.”

The new HBO Max series is a mix of genres: crime story, family drama and psychological thriller. The plot takes place in several plans – in the case of the main character it is both an ongoing murder investigation and an attempt to discover the truth about a personal drama.

– When creating my heroine, I was looking for a social topic that is hardly talked about – says screenwriter Marta Szymanek in an interview for papayayoungdirectors.com. – Thanks to the reaserch, I started to read about young widows and how they are socially assessed. On the one hand, they are to suffer after the loss of their husband, on the other hand, not too much so as not to scare people away or burden themselves. There is guilt in all of this. And when you are a mother – a Polish Mother – the bar goes up.

The title “Thaw” happens to various characters and it happens when they find the courage to confront their own pain. – For me it is a story that you will not run away from your own pain – says Bartek Kotschedoff. – If you don’t pay attention inward, the pain will never leave you. He will always come back. We have a choice: either run away from it forever, or meet with it, look at it and start to feel it.

In addition to the psychological depth, it is primarily a neatly written and beautifully presented criminal story, in which we are not sure who is responsible for the crime and where the line separating good from evil runs.`