A Year of the Quiet Sun | Chicago Reader

A Year of the Quiet Sun

Rated PG 106 minutes 1984

Scarred by war experiences, an American soldier (Scott Wilson) and an impoverished aristocrat (Maja Komorowska) come together in a devastated Polish village in 1946. Krzysztof Zanussi, the director of this German-Polish production (1984), moves deliberately and by inches, drawing out plot points we know perfectly well to be inevitable (of course, the two characters are going to fall in love—they're the only reasonably sensitive people in a landscape littered with thugs and cynics) and underlining his themes with excruciatingly heavy symbolism and structural parallels (both leads are given doubles to demonstrate what might have been—a whore for her, a war profiteer for him). Only the acting could breathe some life into this kind of schematicism, but Wilson is way over the top and the usually inspired Komorowska is reduced to a beaglelike balefulness. With Hanna Skarzanka as the tough-talking but softhearted old lady—the Lila Kedrova role in American films.

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