Like a Drug

Barbara Sass directed this 1999 Polish melodrama about a young poet with a heart condition who agonizes over the meaning of life. Anna (Magdalena Cielecka, looking sultry and dazed) writes impulsive verse, muses over metaphysics, talks to an imaginary girl who might be her conscience, and beds down with a succession of men after her husband commits suicide. Sass sets the story amid the political tensions of the early 80s, casting Anna as a new kind of Polish woman: independent, assertive, sexually adventurous, yet emotionally vulnerable. But despite the feminist posturing and intellectual veneer, this is really an old-fashioned “women's picture.”

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