I absolutely loved this film; in fact I recommend it to all my friends; but it doesn't seem to be included in the Foreign Film sections at any video store in the U.S. As with Ingmar Bergmann there are many thematic layers to a Zanussi film; and this one has several subtle messages that are central to the development of plot and characterization. There is the obvious theme of corruption and hypocrisy. It takes place during a few weeks in Poland a year before Communism collapses. There is veiled criticism of the Party and the wider social structure, including Zanussis beloved Catholic Church. Only the Solidarity movement seems unscathed. However on a larger platform, Zanussi is pointing us to the deeper themes of family and basic human nature and even the chaos and redeeming quality of Nature itself. When the faults and foibles of the many Chekovian cast of characters is focused by the would-be bride; we find denial, despair and finally hope. The same truths that drive the groom mad; leads the bride to a greater awareness of the essential strength of love. I have not told any details of the plot, and the humorous events that somehow become very serious. This is the framework that Zanussi places the story. A couple living together see the benefits of making an official "contract" of marriage. The simple plan backfires when parents on both sides see the opportunities to exploit the event. The loyalties to Church; Party as well as to family are tested and ultimately rejected.
Leslie Caron has a key role as an Englishwoman (?) who has a problem that everyone would like to sweep under the rug like the little dogs defecation. When one person shouts - "This Stinks", it is like the child who is honest enough to call the Emperor naked! I saw the film at just the time I needed to stand up and also proclaim - "This situation really reeks!"
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