"Wszystko na sprzedaz" was filmed in memory of Polish film star Zbigniew Cybulski who was killed by a moving train at the peak of his career, just like the "invisible" and much-talked-about protagonist of the movie. See more »
A friend of mine developed an interest in Wajda, and since I'm the one with a DVD player, the honor of helping him pursue that interest fell to me. The first film we saw, "Man of Marble" seemed to justify that interest. But the second trip, "Everything For Sale" was a real dead end. About forty minutes into it, my friend decided it was too difficult to deal with, and so we turned it off.
One of the main problems here is that Wajda seems more interested in evoking moods than dramatizing events. If, at the forty-minute mark, a film is still making you guess about who and what the characters are to each other, then at the very least, the writer/director's reasons for doing so should be clear. In "Everything For Sale," Wajda is playing a Pirandellian game with the camera lens as the stage's fourth wall -- but this game is no fun for the viewer.
The second main problem is that other stylistic derivatives (most notably Antonioni and "Blow Up) are so blatant as to be irritating. The scene where everybody becomes mesmerized on the whirligig could be played as well either on purple paper or with an invisible tennis ball. And by the time this film was made (albeit in Poland) all of the "swinging sixties" visual and cultural references are so dated as to be laughable. (A wild party sequence recalls a similar one from "Midnight Cowboy" with the difference that in the latter film the sequence made dramatic sense.) Which leads to the third and most serious problem -- the characters do not behave in any way that bears directly on reality or the challenges we are being told they are facing. They are so eccentrically bizarre in their behavior (particularly the Elzbieta character) as to be off-putting. At the same time the movie was telling me that I needed to know more about these people, it was also having the effect of making me not want to. The urge to stop watching was much stronger. Perhaps if I had stuck it out I would feel different. But it was too difficult to deal with.
This movie was probably not a cultural cliché when it first came out. It probably took a whole week from its release for that to happen -- as with "Zabriskie Point." My advice to you is that if you want a rehash of Antonioni with a really convincing Polish flavor, rent "La'venturra" and watch it while eating a kielbasa.
This is early Wajda. He does get better. But you can safely skip "Everything For Sale."
ADDED: From another comment on this film I learn that it is intended to be an homage to Zbigniew Cybulski who was the lead actor in Wajda's even earlier work "Ashes and Diamonds" a film that received wide acclaim. I have this film on order. perhaps if I had been familiar with the actor and the earlier film, "Everything For Sale" might have made more sense to me. As it is, I came to it cold and it left me cold. But seeing "Ashes and Diamonds" could prompt a second viewing of "Everything For Sale." I'm not saying it will -- but it could.
9 of 38 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?