Poland, 1990. The first euphoric year of freedom, but also of uncertainty for the future. Four apparently happy women of different ages decide it's time to change their lives, and fulfill their desires.
In euphoric early-1990s post-Communist Poland, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, four women experience an utterly different reality, as they sink deeper and deeper into despair. Agata, a young married mother, finds herself consumed by an unhappy marriage and an almost obsessive infatuation for an unreachable man, as the frigid school principal, Iza, battles with rejection. Meanwhile, Iza's sister, Marzena, a 1986 beauty pageant winner, and, nowadays, an aerobic instructor, suffers from her husband's long absence. Likewise, Renata, a reclusive middle-aged language teacher, finds solace in her singing birds, and a silent longing for the unattainable object of her desire: her next-door neighbour. Sadly, as the quartet chases a pure and intense passion in all the wrong places, the piercing sadness of unrequited loves, and the unceasing anguish of bitter obsessions, linearly connect them. Does pain exist in the United States of Love?Written by
Given the distinctive quality of Polish cinema, we don't see enough Polish movies in Australia, and I was happy to catch a one-night stand, as it were, from this one.
Intelligent, well cast, beautifully shot, church-ridden, grey, and typically unsettling. As Polish as anything, this is definitely not a date and popcorn movie. Even the first and 'happiest' dinner party scene is shot in washed out blues and greens. From there on, all four female protagonists are bound for sexual grief, although the lesbian character does win a weird kind of satisfaction at the end.
I'd go see this director's next outing, and I wouldn't mind seeing his previous. For me, his observations are vigorous, expanding to give comment on life as we live it, and not just dispensing gloom for the sake of gloom. The gratuitous moments - like Madame Principal's rough-trade encounter with a former student - can be overlooked.
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