EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|FOUR NIGHTS WITH ANNA (CZTERY NOCE Z ANNA) (director/writer: Jerzy Skolimowski; screenwriter: Ewa Piaskowska; cinematographer: Adam Sikora; editor: Cezary Grzesiuk; music: Michal Lorenc; cast: Artur Steranko (Leon Okrasa), Kinga Preis (Anna), Barbara Kołodziejska (Grandma), Jerzy Fedorowicz (Head Doctor), Redbad Klynstra (Judge), Artur Steranko (Leon); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Paulo Branco/Jerzy Skolimowski; Kino-PAL DVD-Region 2; 2008-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)|
|"A brooding tale about an
inarticulate misfit in modern-day rural Poland."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A brooding tale about an inarticulate misfit in modern-day
rural Poland, who is facing solitude and a pained existence. It's a
slow-moving, highly stylized and depressing pic, that seems best for
those with a taste for long pauses of silence. This is the first film in seventeen years for the feisty
poet-cum-amateur boxer, the 70-year-old
Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski ("Rysopsis"/"Walkover"/"Bariera"). It's an uncompromising sinister political
and social conscious drama, that offers little emotional payback. The
bleak character study of a traumatized sympathetic helpless lost soul
living a dreary life and unable to deal with oppressive authority
figures and the coldness of his surroundings, is not everyone's idea of
an entertaining film. The hapless character is someone most viewers
would not notice in their real world, but in this pic the story is told
from his POV and all eyes are on him.
The 40-year-old socially
awkward gentle Leon Okrasa (Artur
Steranko) is a stoker in his
waterlogged rural village's hospital crematory, and lives in a
dilapidated cottage caring for his ailing elderly grandma (Barbara Kołodziejska). A few years back, in 2003, Leon stood
frozen as he witnessed the brutal rape of Anna P. (Kinga
Preis) at the Old Kolkhoz
shack, returning from fishing in a nearby stream, and after reporting
the incident by phone is accused of the crime and convicted on
circumstantial evidence. That injustice tells you all you want to know
about where we are going with this Kafka-like story.
The film veers back and forth
in time with flashbacks. It follows Anna, now a 30-year-old nurse and
working in the same hospital as Leon. The unhappy chubby nurse lives in
a hostel for nurses, while Leon, released from prison (where he was
raped), is her next door neighbor dwelling in his deceased grandma's cottage. Obsessed with Anna, the only
shining light in his drab existence, Leon sneaks into Anna's room,
through the window, for four
straight nights and laces her
sugar with crushed sleeping pills. The creepy Leon then lingers
lovingly by her bedside--even painting her toenails, sewing loose
buttons on her garments and dropping off a diamond ring. The clumsy
freakish Leon is caught leaving Anna's dorm room and is again sent to
prison, saying only at his trial that his voyeurism was an act of love.
Skolimowski's outcry is against those who commit
brutalities and remain free, while the vulnerable, the mentally
challenged and powerless are blinded and handicapped by life's enormity
and become the victims of the brutes who always hold power.
It's an unpleasant Eastern
European arthouse film with a heavy dose of despair, but it's
well-produced, excellently acted and Steranko is a compelling figure as
the sad-sack who plays the role straight while searching for laughs and
to be seen as a real person.
REVIEWED ON 3/24/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ