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Film / Jasminum

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Jaśminowo, a small town somewhere in Poland, has an old monastery, only housing five monks at the present: the prior Kleofas, who loves movies and is very intellectual, the cook Zdrówko and the three monks who inexplicably smell of flowers. It also has a fragrant ghost wandering its corridors. The paintings kept there are very beautiful, though, and interesting, and worth restoring by an expert. Father Kleofas claims it's unnecessary, since his calculations say a 16th century prophecy is about to be fulfilled - a saint shall arise in the monastery, and one of the signs of his coming will be that the paintings become bright and beautiful once more.

But his superiors send in somebody to restore them anyway. Her name is Natasza, and she arrives with her five-years old daughter Eugenia in tow, bringing lots and lots of glassware and expert knowledge - not just about art.

And she's going to gain some more knowledge, too, about herself, love and life.

A low-key, wistful movie for curling up with on a rainy afternoon, Jasminum has been written and directed by Jan Jakub Kolski and came out in 2006. Has one Not Safe for Work scene of Patrycja and Zeman having sex, which contrasts the whole thing strongly.

Jasminum contains the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The mayor of the town for Patrycja, since Irony is always interesting.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Natasza uses real chemical glassware and has some organic chemistry animations in her laptop (we don't know why), but the potions she makes are downright magical.
  • Almighty Janitor: Zdrówko is the monastery cook who single-handedly keeps the others fed while they wait for the prophesied miracle and cultivate their various quirks.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Czeremcha is so absent-minded he went to the wrong church all these years ago and decided to stay there as a monk instead of coming back to his fiance.
  • Broken Bird: Natasza is the stoic sort, although we learn of her Dark and Troubled Past rather late in the movie.
  • Break-Up Bonfire: Natasza burned down her house after getting stood up at the altar by Czeremcha.
  • Captain Obvious: "It's a duck, it has to shit."
  • Catchphrase: Eugenia often says "Co się dziwisz?" translation 
  • Chick Magnet: Zeman, the actor (Bogusław Linda Adam Westing and Playing Against Type, as his usual fare is quite gritty)
  • Christianity is Catholic: Set in a Polish small town (practically countryside) so, it's a given.
  • Church of Saint Genericus: The monks wear yellow habits, which aren't used by any Real Life order.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Zdrówko gets stigmata in The Stinger he's horrified - that he won't be able to work in the kitchen anymore!
    Zdrówko (speaking to a picture of Saint Roch): Are you crazy?
  • Cryptic Conversation: Zdrówko can really beat around the bush when he wants to.
  • Disappeared Dad: Eugenia's dad is completely nonexistent in the movie (we meet her mom's Old Flame, but as he left her years before Eugenia was born, he can't be the dad).
  • Doing In the Wizard: Kleofas criticises Natasza for trying to explain the brothers' powers scientifically, but at the same time he's conducting very minute observations of his saint candidates.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Mild. Eugenia dislikes diminutives of her name (she'll let her mom call her Genia, but prefers others not to).
  • Dream Walker: Eugenia somehow ends up in Zdrówko's prophetic dream of Saint Roch - but since she's narrating, maybe he just told her the funny dream he had.
  • Elective Mute: The three prospective saints are monks who have taken vows of silence. Czereśnia actually hasn't - he just had nothing to say. They all break them during the story.
  • The Fashionista: Natasza's notable for dressing very colourfully.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Little Eugenia, who doesn't really do much besides observing, being an ice-breaker with the monks and commenting the plot as wittily as her age allows.
  • Flower Motifs: Flowering trees the monks get their names from: śliwa (plum), czereśnia (wild cherry), czeremcha (bird cherry), jaśmin (jasmine).
  • Foreign Language Title: "Jasminum" is Latin for "jasmine".
  • Foreshadowing: "Brother Zdrówko, you're the real saint here."
  • Forgiveness: Natasza forgives Czeremcha in the end, and they decide they're Better as Friends.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Zdrówko, if he grumbles about it. He feeds animals first, then men, then himself. His favourite saint for complaining to appears to be Roch, the Patron Saint of sick animals. Apart from him, Czeremcha keeps adorable fluffy ducklings, and Czereśnia takes such pains not to step on ants that he trips and drops a statue.
  • Gentle Giant: Czereśnia, who used to be a circus strongman.
  • Ghostly Goals: The first Czeremcha and his jasmine-smelling lady want to be Together in Death - so Natasza mixes their scents and Zdrówko pushes their coffins in the crypt together.
  • Glamorous Single Mother: Natasza is doing really well for a single mom and artist.
  • Good Bad Girl: Patrycja, who stars in the one NSFW scene this movie has.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The ghost lady is rather opulently clothed.
  • Gothic Horror: Some decorations are very gothic, and there are ghosts, but that's really all.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Father Kleofas loves Italian movies and quotes them a lot.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Plot significant information is found in Latin inscriptions in the monastery. Natasza takes the hint, but Kleofas doesn't.
  • Happily Ever After: Zeman and Patrycja.
  • The Hermit: It's a sequestered monastery, which means a bunch of hermits living alongside each other.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The prophesied saint in the monastery is Zdrówko, but father Kleofas really can't take a hint.
  • I Am Who?: The saint turns out to be the last person anyone would expect (in-universe). Least of all himself.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Patrycja the hair-dresser is addicted to Czeremcha's love-inducing smell (she says it makes her a better person). Natasza wants to work out just why. She gets over it after finding real love.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Eugenia and Zdrówko.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Natasza makes a perfume that causes people to forget. She leaves a vial for Czeremcha.
  • Legacy Character: To gain fragrance and holiness of the first three Śliwa, Czeremcha and Czereśnia, monks take up their names and come to their crypt to pray at their coffins (the three saints have died in sixteenth century). Natasza is dissappointed to find she can't get the heart of the fragrance there. But she does find an important clue.
  • Logical Latecomer: Natasza and her daughter. The monastery is rather unconventional (if perfectly sweet).
  • The Lost Lenore: Natasza, for Czeremcha.
  • Love Hungry: Patrycja.
  • Love Hurts: In many ways. But people get up afterwards.
  • Love Potion: Things that carry the smell of czeremcha or jaśmin grant happiness in love, at least after Natasza's worked her magic. Unusually for the trope, the perfected love perfume works on both the wearer and the person the wearer wanted to seduce, producing reciprocated love.
  • Magical Realism: Apart from all the alchemy, his favourite saint Roch makes an appearance to wash Zdrówko's feet, since he's a new saint - also to complain about birds pooping on his statue. Although this was All Just a Dream. But Zdrówko later gets stigmata, so the dream was prophetic at the very least.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The paintings are restored - by completely mundane means, before the prophecy does come true.
  • Mundane Solution: Natasza restores the paintings with chemicals (that's her job) and discusses with father Kleofas the relative virtues of this versus the miracle that would renew both the paintings and the people.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Czeremcha displays rather unsaintlike greed in picking a cigarette stub lost by the chain-smoking Natasza. Except, in a subversion of the trope, it turns out he's her ex-fiance (not Eugenia's father, judging by her age) who sort of walked out on her, but still loves her, a lot.
  • Never Recycle a Building: The closed cinema remains a cinema, with all the things needed to show movies. So Natasza and others can use it later for plot and for a private seanse of Kleofas's favourite movie.
  • One-Word Title
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Not very different, a fairly typical pair of Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • Overcomplicated Menu Order: Eugenia is very exacting about how thick her bread is to be and how much butter she wants on it.
  • Pauper Patches: Zdrówko's old boots are as holey as he is.
  • The Philosopher: Father Kleofas. He argues that Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum and is probably right.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Lots of small chinks that can be looked through - the monastery building is old.
  • Power Floats: Czeremcha does that, but he needs to concentrate very hard (Zdrówko takes advantage when he wants to steal a duck).
  • Quirky Town: With an even quirkier monastery.
  • Runaway Bride: Runaway Groom: How Natasza became Broken Bird. Czeremcha left her standing at the altar. Her mother, who came from the hospital to her wedding, died a couple of days afterwards and Natasza was left on her own. He says it wasn't a case of cold feet, not entirely.
  • Science Is Useless: Played With. Father Kleofas uses science (calculations and tracking their movements) to determine which of the fragrant monks will be the saint - and he fails, but only just - his chart, when held to sunlight against a particular Latin inscription, highlights the words that name the saint as Sanitas - Zdrówko. Kleofas simply doesn't read it to the end. Meanwhile, Natasza does restore the paintings mundanely, but can't find what she needs to create the perfect Love Potion until the Star-Crossed Lovers are reunited. So, while science isn't actually useless, there are things it just can't do.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Brother Zdrówko won't take money for the fragrant relics (coffee, tea, sugar and matches are another thing, but he has brothers to feed).
  • Shown Their Work: Natasza's lectures on perfumery are correct and plot-relevant. The Latin, on the other hand, could be better - sunt means "are", plural.
  • Signature Scent: Czeremcha, Czereśnia and Śliwa smell like their respective flowers. The girl ghost smells like jasmine.
  • Small Towns
  • Smart People Know Latin: Notably, father Kleofas never knew Zdrówko spoke Latin (because he never said he did).
  • Staircase Tumble: Natasza pushes Patrycja's abusive boyfriend downstairs after he hits Patrycja. That's how the ladies become friends.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Ille sunt domus, ego sum pectus, tu nos connectus translation . Natasza investigates and it turns out the first Czeremcha was a rich nobleman's son in love with an Impoverished Patrician's daughter, which caused him to get Locked Away in a Monastery. The girl's ghost is haunting the place to this day and smells of jasmine. In present day, there's also her own almost-marriage with Czeremcha, years ago, whom she isn't really ready to forgive until the end of the movie.
  • Swing Low, Sweet Harriet: In the vision Kleofas has of the 16th century pair of Star-Crossed Lovers, she's sitting on a swing (the real swing that's been made for Eugenia by Zdrówko) and he's pushing her.
  • Title Drop: After Kleofas tells Natasza the local legend:
    Father Kleofas: It would make a good movie. It could be called... Jasminum?
  • Woman Scorned: Natasza admits that her real reason for coming to Jaśminowo was to find and confront the man who left her at the altar - brother Czeremcha.
  • Working-Class Hero: Zdrówko is a no-nonsense, practical guy who singlehandedly keeps the brothers from starving.
  • Your Favourite: Brother Czereśnia will only be bribed by an antonówka (a variety of apple), although Zdrówko gives him a McIntosh, much sweeter and easier to obtain if you don't have an orchard at your disposal, saying it's an antonówka, and Czereśnia takes it.