(director/writer: Krzysztof Zanussi; cinematographer: Edward Klosinski ; editor: Marek Denys; music: Wojciech Kilar; cast: Maja Komorowska (Roza), Agata Buzek (Jola), Wojciech Siemion (Dziadek), Malgorzata Pritulak (Matka); Runtime: 55; MPAA Rating: NR; Facets; 2001-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

Better suited for TV than cinema.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Weekend Stories is a project produced for Polish television (aired between 1996 and 2000) that is written and directed by the great (and sometimes not so great) Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi(“Year of the Quiet Sun”/”Illumination”/”Balance”), whereby all eight episodes passionately and unambiguously examine moral dilemmas in contemporary life during the post-Cold War period in Poland. It’s better suited for TV than cinema.

The elderly Polish exile Roza (Maja Komorowska) lives in Paris for a long time and often commutes to her nearby birthplace home by taxi. She came from an aristocratic family, but during the war the militia stole her estate and valuables and her palace was converted by the old-regime Communists into an old age home run by the local church. She has accepted her fate and has since lived as a struggling worker, currently employed as a cleaning lady for a rich Arab-French family. In a soul searching trek by cab to her former country house, she visits the village family, once employed by her father, that now live there and searches for a metal box buried on the grounds whereby her father hid a treasure. At the visit, Roza identifies with the family’s rebellious, pretty and intelligent 18-year-daughter Jola (Agata Buzek) and entertains her on a culture rich visit to Paris. When Roza learns that Jola’s atheist grandfather (Wojciech Siemion) became rich after he stole the contents of the metal box and intends to leave it as an inheritance to Jola, she urges Jola to donate the inheritance to maintain the struggling old age home and not begin her adult life burdened with living on ill-begotten gains.

The pic is too schematic and not too subtle in having its saintly mouthpiece rail against a materialistic society that values money more than anything else.The argument never completely flies on screen because it’s so loaded to favor Zanussi’s agenda.

REVIEWED ON 1/14/2014 GRADE: B-    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/