In the winter of 1942-43, a Jewish family leaps from a train going through Silesia. They are separated in the woods, and Leon, a local peasant who's now a farmer of some wealth, discovers ... See full summary »
Her son dying of cancer and her relationship falling apart, Julie flees to Poland in search of a man who can heal using his hands. Julie finds not only a magical cure for her son, but also ... See full summary »
The script by Eva Borusevicova describes the true story of Janosik, the XVIII centuries outlaw, who was prowling through Slovak-Polish border. The story of Janosik, a legendary "Central ... See full summary »
The Vatican sends a priest to verify some miracles, performed by a woman who has been nominated for sainthood. During his investigation, the priest, who is experiencing a crisis of faith, re-discovers his own purpose in life.
The film is set in 1905, in a time of feverish revolutionary underground activity in Poland partitioned between three neighbours. All the characters are committed anarchists. The bomb maker... See full summary »
A film about a film being made by a group of young directors. Story is divided into three parts. The first follows Anka, a girl from a working- class family. She finishes school, plans to ... See full summary »
The film is set in a small town near Warsaw, to which a young and coming director comes to produce a classic play (Wyspianski "Wyzwolenie") with a modern vein. Everyone in the production ... See full summary »
A story of a middle-aged woman, Irena, living alone on the outskirts of Wroclaw with her 8-year old son. They live in a drab apartment. She is a mail carrier and her son is her only pride ... See full summary »
Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has found the man of her dreams in Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), but her plans to marry him are strongly opposed by her father, Dr. Austin Sloper (... See full summary »
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
The thing about a film like "Olivier, Olivier" is how cold and distant the characters are directly influences the warmth of the film itself. This is a very distant, harsh story at times, filled with characters constantly at odds with one another. No one has a healthy, balanced relationship. Unlike Agnieszka Holland's next film, "The Secret Garden", the underlying beauties are greatly crushed beneath the weight of ugly attitudes. There's no redemption to be found, only emotional pain. That does not make this a bad film, only an exceedingly difficult one.
Love is always an illusion in "Olivier, Olivier". The only time it is at all real is in the early scenes of Nadine's and Olivier's childhood. From there on, guilt and possessiveness take over. In a frighteningly powerful way, everyone is, in turn, exposed for each of their darkest sides. The acting is great, there's no denying that. But it's far too narrowly focused. The cinematography is nice, but given virtually no breathing room. Scene after scene is the intense focus of faces and mid-range close-ups. Sometimes it feels like we never really get to see what's going on around these people. Then again, neither do they. Their world is excessively insular, incestuous, sealed in and circular.
There's a strange turn of events toward the last third of the film. A spiritual aspect is introduced briefly that has little forewarning and less explanation. I wouldn't normally be opposed to this inclusion, save for the fact that it has no real context or purpose in a straightforward drama. It feels ill-conceived and quite unbelievable.
In the end, most of the original questions are answered. Anyone who was watching could quite easily have pieced it together, but it is somewhat gratifying to see it resolved. A lot of people have praised this film as a stunning achievement. In a few ways, this can be true. But at the heart of "Olivier, Olivier", you are left with a somewhat dull, incompletely realized film. There are depths, both visual and emotional, that Agnieszka Holland doesn't nearly reach. It is a genuinely good film - but quite far away from being an excellent one.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this