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  • gsygsy25 September 2016
    Astonishingly mature work written and directed by the young Polish director Tomasz Wasilewski. It's stuffed full of amazing images and superb performances.

    The individual, overlapping stories of four women in a quiet town are presented in compelling scenes in which it's impossible to anticipate what will happen next. Meanwhile, in the wider world, discussions are taking place about the unification of Germany, the nail in the coffin of Eastern European Communism, which had effectively collapsed the year before, liberating Poland from what had been the Soviet Union. The counterpointing of these private and public themes is brilliantly accomplished by Wasilewski, who has blossomed as an artist with this film.

    The quartet of actresses are Julia Kijowska,Magdalena Cielecka, Dorota Kolak and Marta Nieradkiewicz, with Ms Kolak particularly moving as a bewildered teacher thrown on the scrapheap. There is strong support by an equally accomplished quartet of men: Tomasz Tyndyk, Andrzej Chyra, Marcin Czarnik and Lukasz Simlat.
  • Never in my life has any film made me regret buying the ticket. Wasilewski's movie is so badly executed the visit in the cinema is an excruciating experience. There is no script (how come did it get an award in Berlin? it doesn't make any sense), the cinematography sucks (what happened to the colors?), the direction is terrible (Wasilewski can't make use of terrific cast - they all seem lost in this story) and the score is non-existent. I will not mention intentional and over the top nudity (I don't mind nudity, but the number of penis and vagina shots is inexplicable taking into consideration movie's theme) and a final scene, which sums up my experience in the cinema. That puking woman (that's not really a spoiler - the scene doesn't fit the movie whatsoever) is like the director puking on the audience. Definitely not recommended.
  • I am sure this is not the easiest movie for many,but I find it brutally expressive, overwhelming and especially original. I don't know the fancy words for a review but I can tell you, most of the movie I will probably remember for a very, very long time.

    I love the very Eastern European picture and most of the characters - the play of the school director is so powerful that she is almost iconic.

    This is pure realistic art against the grain, shallow and mediocre entertainment going on in cinemas.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is the early 1990s and Poland is newly democratic. But the day-to-day concerns of its citizens are the same as they ever were, and this film follows four women: Catholic Agata (Julia Kijowska), fascinated by the local priest but trapped in a marriage to a man who disgusts her; headmistress Iza (Magdalena Cielecka), having an obsessive, long-term affair with a pupil's father; middle-aged teacher Renata (Dorota Kolak), forced to retire and sexually attracted to Marzina (Marta Nieradkiewicz), a one-time beauty queen who now makes a living teaching aerobics.

    As with young director Tomasz Wasilewski's previous film, 'Floating Skycrapers', 'United States of Love' is chock-full of nudity. Unlike 'Floating Skyscrapers', however, a lot of it is nudity you do not really want to see: wrinkles and flab abound! Some of it is also in questionable taste: the viewer may wonder, for example, whether the camera has to linger for quite so many minutes on the nude form of a young woman immediately after she has been sexually assaulted.

    What I take to be the filtering out of colours certainly sets the bleak and glum tone, but perhaps was too easy a way of doing so? Whatever, I enjoyed following the women's stories, predictable as they sometimes are (when Iza picks up a young man at a bus station you just know he will turn out to be one of her pupils, and the woman-falls-for-priest plot line is probably as old as religion itself). The lead actresses all give good performances - particularly Kolak as the lonely lesbian.

    One final point - even you do not smoke, you may find yourself developing smoker's cough after seeing this. In some scenes so many people are smoking you can barely see the action...
  • This film played one night during the Making Waves 2016 film series at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville NY. It is the story of four women's relationship with the men in their lives after the fall of communism in 1990. The film is beautifully written and the production is excellent. Once you look beyond an individual female character's immediate actions, you are confused as to what really motivates them. Yes, it makes sense that you mope because the handsome man does not respond. But why would you be attracted to this particular man in the first place etc. I was at a Q&A with the actress who played Agata. A woman in the audience asked what motivated her character and Ms Kijowska answered that she struggled with it. Then she fell back on the easy excuse that the lack of freedom to make bad choices in communism created this tension and frustration. I think it is because the writer and director is a man and it is a kind of male fantasy of power and control. For me one of the most powerful portraits of male cruelty reminiscent of the black and white continental films of the 20's and 30's occurred in a scene in Iza's apartment involving an open window. I may never forget it. Of course the consequences were devastating and Iza will pay. All of the women pay.
  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm watching this movie because I've heard in a film show talk about it. It is about sexual repression. The problem is that he treats it in such a cold way that it does not reach the viewer. It is a distant movie. It is difficult to get to empathize with a character when they do not let you see his face. In too many planes are the actors back or side without letting us see their feelings.

    It should be cold because it is about something that is not happy, yes, but one thing is that it has a cold picture that helps the narration and another thing is that it leaves the viewer cold. And why do I say it leaves the viewer cold? Why the director, although he is very clear about the script and what he wants to tell, what he does not know is to tell it. All planes are distant and from outside the action. There are no changes of planes, everything is a fixed plane sequence except for a moment and that denotes not knowing where you want to go since each moment requires a type of plane.

    The actors are very good. All convey that coldness and that regret. The problem is that the director too often does not let us see them.

    Photography really is not pretty. It helps tell the story because it is cold, but not a beautiful coldness. It is very austere so austere it seems to you a television movie.

    It is true that art and make-up and costumes help a lot to get into the moment and place where the action is. It is the best of the movie.

    The management, however, I think that only has the story you want to tell, from the point of view of the script, but this is cinema and has more sections. There are times when the type of plane, which is usually general, takes you out of the story so far from the action.

    If you are a lover of art cinema and essay, you will like it