|LIFE AS A FATAL SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE (ZYCIE JAKO SMIERTELNA CHOROBA PRZENOSZONA DROGA PLCIOWA) (director/writer: Krzysztof Zanussi; cinematographer: Edward Klosinski; editor: Marek Denys; music: Wojciech Kilar; cast: Zbigniew Zapasiewicz (Dr. Tomasz Berg), Tadeusz Bradecki (Monk Marek), Krystyna Janda (Anna), Monika Krzywkowska (Hanka), Pawel Okraska (Filip), Szymon Bobrowski (Karol), Jola Cora (French Actress), Aleksander Fabisiak (Professor); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Iwona Ziulkowska; Clavis Films; 2000-Poland-in Polish and French with English subtitles)|
grim meditation on death."
by Dennis Schwartz
Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi ("Persona
non grata"/"Balance"/"Year of the Quiet Sun")
writes and directs this moving but grim meditation on
death. Though filled with droll humor and a rational
view of dying, the simplistic told story is heavy
going. It revolves around a humanistic doctor's
confrontation with his own terminal cancer and his
sudden questioning of what life means from his new
perspective. Its title was lifted from graffiti
on a wall near the director's home.
It opens with a French movie, set in the Middle Ages, being shot in the Polish countryside outside of Warsaw, that shows a horse thief saved from hanging by a priest who is allowed to bring him back to his monastery until the thief learns to accept death as the path to eternal life and then is brought back to the gallows to face his punishment. When an accident occurs on the set, the film is halted and the movie's unit doctor, Dr. Tomasz Berg (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), treats the wounded crew member and makes the acquaintance of the young unmarried couple, Filip (Pawel Okraska), a medical student serving as an extra, and the costume girl, Hanka (Monika Krzywkowska).
in Warsaw, Tomasz learns he has stomach cancer and his
only slim hope is an expensive experimental operation
in Paris. Opting to try and get the French treatment
means he must try and raise funds any way he can. As a
last resort he contacts his remarried ex-wife Anna
(Krystyna Janda), and must humble himself to almost
beg for the money while her money-obsessed
nouveau-riche second husband (Szymon
Bobrowski) looks on with scorn.
After receiving a check for the operation while
meeting in a public restaurant, Tomasz when back in
Paris is told because his condition worsened they
bedridden in a Warsaw hospital on a deathwatch,
Tomasz contemplates what his dying means and
welcomes the visits of the young couple he met on
the movie set. The lonely man decides to leave them
his apartment and assets, as he hopes they find the
love together that eluded him.
assured drama and the dignified doctor is worthy of
our respect, however it's thanks to Zapasiewicz’s
engrossing performance that the pic has some energy.
REVIEWED ON 1/2/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ