The Poles are to (some) Brits as Mexicans are to (some) Americans. I found the theme of the film timeless, as it highlights the eternal plight of immigrants (illegal or not) seeking an improvement in their lives while also confronting the suspicion and xenophobia which keep them in the gray and black economies. Inspired choice of Jeremy Irons, one of the most 'Continental' British actors of our time. "An-na."
seeing what I want to see, I saw a story of how life slips through the cracks to find a way. But now it hit me how Nowak's censorship was a metaphor... I do however have trouble with the God-in-a-predictable-soap-opera-machine with the homeless stealing the extra box of food and sweatshirt shenanigans. and extra points for actually renovating his apartment with the film
"The economy of Skolimowski’s means and the suggestiveness of his idiosyncratic vision merge perfectly. What did he need, really, to tell his tale of four poor schmucks caught in absurdist limbo?" (Richard Jameson, Parallax-View). Moonlighting's Poland only ever exists in the minds of the cosmically exiled protagonists; even we the viewers never see home. Ignorance is purgatory, solidarity brewed tin cans. 3.5 stars
3.5 Nerve-wracking and "psychologically taut." If only he'd shown solidarity with his co-workers instead of trying to impose martial law, things might have worked out differently. Great to see Jeremy Irons full of energy and with healthy skin color. Sometime in the 90s, he segued into his current look of deathly pallor and exhausted demeanor.
Skolimowski's Cannes winning script couldn't have been more topical on release. Skolimowski an exile from his home country of Poland found himself in the U.K. as the Solidarity uprising was taking place at home. The script resulting from this was both political agitation and black comedy that excelled as both. Irons as the English speaking Pole hiding the truth from his co-workers in a foreign land is sublime here.
Relentlessly unnerving, thanks to taut direction and high-tension ambient score, the mood accentuated rather than relieved by the ample, heartwrenchingly wry sight gags, with no respite in the film's implications - as complex & equivocal as the political situation it explores, Skolimowski's microcosm is a masterwork of minimalist precision. Affecting w/out feeling manipulative; a cypher w/out feeling like a cop-out.
In the same vein of British docu-dramas, the film has a palpable flavour of realism that punctuates this exilic tale with sympathy for human frailty. The simple and mundane nature of the film makes its humour all the more ridiculous and its sobriety all the more surreal.
Four nervous men are clearing customs at a Poland airport while the fluorescents above flicker wildly, perfectly synced to Hans Zimmer's sinister electronics. Thus begins Jerzy Skolimowski's ingenious, metaphorical head trip with Jeremy Irons as the tormented Nowak trying to do right in a nightmarish London where capitalist Brits are no better or worse than socialist Poles. Humans as prisoners of their own system.
Skolimowski's cold, calculating directorial style is matched perfectly with Jeremy Irons' maniacally obsessive performance style and the result is a simple home renovation turned into an ultra-stressful nightmare, as harrowing as the life-or-death journey in ESSENTIAL KILLING, as strung-out as the drug-induced psychosis of DEAD RINGERS. 4.4 stars.