A winter day at a Polish castle, half owned by a fatalistic notary and half by a volcanic old soldier's niece. The old soldier, Cupbearer, and the notary are sworn enemies, which may doom ... See full summary »
A winter day at a Polish castle, half owned by a fatalistic notary and half by a volcanic old soldier's niece. The old soldier, Cupbearer, and the notary are sworn enemies, which may doom the love between the niece, Klara, and the notary's son, Waclaw. On this day, the tongue-tied Cupbearer asks a braggart courtier, Papkin, to sue on his behalf for the hand of the widow Hanna. Papkin succeeds and the wedding is set for the next day. In response, the notary plots to marry Waclaw to the widow to upend Cupbearer's plans. When Cupbearer learns of this perfidy, he responds with his own plot. Will there be poison, a duel, kidnapping, and imprisonment; or, will fate bring another solution? Written by
I knew nothing about this film when I saw the DVD on the shelf. My expectations were based exclusively on the director's reputation. My pleasure at this wonderful farce, set in late 18th Century Poland, was immense. It is apparent from almost the first moments that the actors are both at home in this material and having the time of their lives playing it. It is a classic, with all the classic characters. There is the puffing, sanguine paterfamilias; his beautiful niece and heir; the boy next door who loves her, and is loved by her; and his scheming father. Of course these neighbors are feuding. Mix in the beautiful, scheming widow, and a buffoonish lackey, and there is room for a lot of fun.
Polanski's performance as the blustering Papkin, never at a loss for words, never worried about anything more than he worries about himself, is delightful. He brings a mixture of roguishness, bravado and cowardice that is always fun to watch.
Wajda lets his actors have their way. They are all professionals and quite good, and this material wouldn't stand up to tight reins. Instead, we are served a curious castle and severe winter conditions, and somehow, with Wajda stirring the pot, the stew comes out quite tasty. If a viewer enjoys farce, this is one to see.
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