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Noel M. Smith
In the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, Wanda Goronski is constantly drinking to shut out the problems in her life. Having deserted her husband and infant children, Wanda sleeps on her sister's couch - when she isn't sleeping with the latest man who bought her a drink - and is unemployed with no long term job prospect. Her drinking and her life in combination have made her an emotionless woman. Her life changes when she meets Norman Dennis in a bar. She initially believes he's the bartender, but in reality he's a petty criminal who just held up the bar in question. Even after she learns Mr. Dennis' occupation and despite he treating her poorly, she willingly goes along with him and his petty crimes as a way to get through life. Mr. Dennis, on the other hand, sees her as a conduit to bigger and better things. Although things don't turn out quite the way either of the two envision, Wanda does at least begin to feel once again. Written by
There is a scene, near the beginning, that shows our main character from a distance walking through mounds of coal to get to her father to ask him for some money. The shot stays on her for what seems like several minutes. The camera simply and slowly pans forwarded as she progresses. Some may say this is boring, others the work of a amateur that doesn't know when to cut. Yet this is a very brilliant shot that shows the true essence of what this film is about and the plight of our character. In life she is constantly walking. Unable to fully grasp the true dissolution of her existence she continues to search for something, anything. She is the victim of life's cruel riddle. A riddle that has no answer.
This is a very sad movie, probably one of the saddest movies you will ever see. It is sad because Wanda's condition is not unique and probably makes up more of the working poor than we care to think. It helps clarify the desperation that people in these circumstances both live and feel. It also helps explain why they will get into such stupid situations and at times make such dumb and illogical choices.
Here drifter Wanda meets up with a two bit crook named Mr Davis. The two create a very odd relationship and actually prove beneficial to each other. She brings out his long dormant tenderness, while he, in one truly touching moment, actually gives her some confidence. Of course it doesn't last, but it is an inspiring piece nonetheless. It shows that even the most pathetic of people, in the most bleakest of situations, can still transcend themselves.
This is actually quite a powerful film. It's very stark, grimy, almost home movie look is actually an asset. No stylized interpretations here. The dingy bars, restaurants, homes, hotels, and factories are all very, very real. You start to feel as trapped in their grayness as the characters. This is a far more billiant and manipulative film than one might initially believe.
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