"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife". Roman, after discovering his impotence, urges his wife Hanka to take a lover. She reluctantly complies, and Roman, despite his earlier words, ... See full summary »
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife". Roman, after discovering his impotence, urges his wife Hanka to take a lover. She reluctantly complies, and Roman, despite his earlier words, becomes obsessively jealous. Spying on her, he learns of her affair, and vows to kill himself - not knowing that Hanka was in fact breaking off the relationship... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
To my way of thinking, what really makes this episode of "Dekalog 9" ("Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife") very singular is the fundamental importance ascribed to dialectics between sex and love applied to the theme of transgression and violation of the bond of conjugal fidelity. The drama of a married couple driven to despair and harassed by problems not easy to solve floats before our eyes in a disturbing way. The gravity of the situation cannot be underestimated, even if the two of them are still linked together by a close bond of affection.
Kieslowski doesn't show any scruples about following Hanka's and Roman's despairing thoughts in the course of their restless, toiling existence and carries out his purpose by a series of very frequent close ups, using long focal length zoom lens, enveloping the two characters in a sort of crude grazing lighting, showing up faces furrowed with wrinkles, placing their features in anything but a favorable light, casting a gloomy shadow over their future, almost prefiguring the uncertain life of the soul kept aside for them. He looks mercilessly into their pale and strained faces, revealing false pretenses mingled with an indefinite sense of guilt, ready to expose their congenital hypocrisy, to dismantle every misleading sense of security. Truly determined to penetrate the defensive shield erected around the married couple, Kieslowski finds out painful scars of time concealed into the folds of their skin worn away by perpetual stress in their marriage, violates the privacy of their facial features revealing all their disarming vulnerability, all their secret consistency of pure mirrors of souls double-crossing each other.
In this embarrassing situation where the impurity of deviating thoughts finds its barycenter in ill-concealed impulses of jealousy, a particular mention goes to the directorial use of the phone, invested with the task of unmasking every ambiguous situations and gratified with many meaningful close ups. Once again the director takes delight in evoking a suggestive game of mirrors in the successful attempt of rendering with great evidence the sense of estrangement and the ambiguous atmosphere of the story. He redoubles the nervous tension due to the dialectic game of two lonely souls with their nerves on the edge, with their barren make-believe opportunely unmasked for the benefit of the audience. Even if the doubtful transgression of the ninth commandment is perceived vaguely, the ninth episode of the "Dekalog" is one of the most significant of the whole series, full of inmost Bergmanian suggestions. And already one can perceive clear premonitory echoes of "The double life of Véronique" between the folds of this story.
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