"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Janusz is a taxi driver. It's Christmas Eve, and he honours the (Polish) traditions for this (holy) day: he gives presents to the members of his...
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"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Janusz is a taxi driver. It's Christmas Eve, and he honours the (Polish) traditions for this (holy) day: he gives presents to the members of his family and attends Midnight Mass. Later, Ewa, a woman who he had betrayed his wife with three years earlier, asks him to help her. Her husband is missing, and she asks him to help her search for him. Should Janusz stay home to keep the day holy? Or should he help Ewa, who says she needs his help, to keep the day holy? Is it his duty to help her? This episode seems to be both about the third commandment and about some of the other commandments, for example "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Thou shalt not lie". Written by
I watched the first two episodes of Kieslowski's "Dekalog" in 2007, and then inexplicably stopped there. I don't understand why, since I remember the episodes particularly the first one as being supremely moving and emotional works. Episode 3 doesn't have the emotional punch of its two predecessors, but remains an exquisitely-made and often haunting one-hour drama. The loneliness of the story's characters is completely heartbreaking, playing on the irony that, for many people, Christmas Eve can be the loneliest night of all.
On the night of Christmas Eve, taxi driver and husband Janusz (Daniel Olbrychski) falsely reports the theft of his car, and spends the night with Ewa (Maria Pakulnis), a former old mistress who harbours mixed feelings towards their prior relationship. Interestingly, no adulterous behaviour actually takes place; Janusz agrees to help find Ewa's partner, whom she claims has been lost since noon. They drive through the eerily deserted Polish streets, visiting morgues and railway stations, while trying to reconcile their chequered history.
The couple engage in a needless high-speed pursuit from the police. Perhaps Janusz's guilt at abandoning his wife on Christmas Eve led him to flee punishment, despite being the legal owner of the car. Or perhaps such moments of adrenaline, with the suicidal Ewa refusing to wear a seatbelt, are an attempt to recapture the sexual excitement of their former adulterous relationship, an element probably missing from Janusz's conventional home life.
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