Director Lukasz Palkowski mainly known for his work within television has directed his attention to Jerzy Gorski; a triathlete that won the Double Ironman competition which consisted of 3.86 km of swimming, 180.25 km of cycling and 42.2 km of running. Palkowski has produced a biopic to tell Gorski’s story which not only includes the victories but also the failures involving drug addiction, prison and even attempts at taking his own life. Breaking the Limits is a generic underdog piece which leaves a lot to be desired.

It follows the period when Gorski was heavily addicted to heroin and filling his time injecting needles into his collapsed veins. He’d once been an award-winning child athlete but later found himself abandoning sports and spending time berating the police and spending time with the Communist Party official’s daughter Grazyna – who was also an addict. This period of his life is portrayed with countless clichés; one of which is the excessive soundtrack consisting of classic 70s rock, which is overused in cinema to paint the picture of rebellious youth.

The story soon moves away from this and shows Gorski during his time in prison. Spending two years at an addiction treatment centre after he’d woken up in a hospital after a suicide attempt and it was there where he’d begun his journey towards becoming the winner of the Double Ironman competition.

Actor Jakub Gierszal playing the role of the stoic Gorski gives a strong performance that is able to hold the audience’s attention through to the end. It can be difficult to portray such an iconic character and while Gierszal was stunted by generic writing, his comfortability in front of the camera managed to shine through. Alongside other talents such as Arkadiusz Jakubik, Artur Zmijewski, Magdalena Cielecka & Anna Próchniak to name a few, this piece is definitely credible for its performances.

It’s expected for a feature film caked in poor writing, sentimental scoring and worn out sequences such as Gorski’s Rocky-like training montage scene to follow the norm rather than breach it. It can be said that the reason for these cliches is not to draw attention to the filmic qualities but the story of Jerry Gorski. A story that great no matter who tells it, as long as they tell it truthfully it’s bound to inspire others and Breaking the Limits does exactly that.

Viewers are witness to the darker side of addiction. During his recovery, he leaves behind the lifeless bodies of both his friends and girlfriend, who he’d introduced to heroin. To watch a man go from drug addiction and poor mental health to becoming a champion can make viewers want to make positive changes of their own. Breaking the Limits does what a lot of great stories do; inspire change and, although there could’ve been more attention paid towards the score and the writing, nothing is of greater achievement than that in the world of storytelling.

Dir: Lukasz Palkowski

Prd: Krzysztof Szpetmanski, Maciej Barczewski & Ivan Petrusic

Scr: Agatha Dominik & Maciej Karpinski

DOP: Piotr Sobocinski Jr.

Music: Bartosz Chajdecki

Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Janusz Gajos, Artur Zmijewski, Magdalena Cielecka, Kamila Kaminska, Anna Próchniak, Adam Woronowicz etc

Country: Poland

Runtime: 108 mins

Breaking the Limits is available on VOD now.