×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Ballad of the Windshield Washers

(Polish and Italian dialogue)

With:
Zygmunt ..... Olek Mincer Justyna ..... Agata Buzek Rafal ..... Kim Rossi Stuart Pawel ..... Andrzej Grabowski Helena ..... Grazyna Wolszak Irina ..... Eljana Nikolova Popova Marchetto ..... Marco Lucarelli Marcolino ..... Gabriele Bocciarelli The Pope ..... Stefan Burczyk Janusz ..... Romuald Andrzej Klos

(Polish and Italian dialogue)

Realism and fantasy make uneasy bedfellows in this oddity about members of a Polish family in Rome in the late ’80s. Peter Del Monte, a director whose films in the past have been maddeningly uneven in quality, can’t engender a great deal of interest in his often unconvincing characters, and the unexpectedly downbeat ending won’t help the film find bookings in many territories.

Janusz (Romuald Andrzej Klos) is the head of an extended family of Polish emigres who arrive in Rome, find cheap lodgings and set about finding menial work while they await visas that will allow them to move on to a new life in Canada. Family members include Janusz’s slightly deranged brother, Zygmunt (Olek Mincer); his son, Rafal (Kim Rossi Stuart); his companion, Helena (Grazyna Wolszak); and Helena’s attractive daughter, Justyna (Agata Buzek). The men find work cleaning the windshields of cars stuck in Rome’s notorious traffic jams; Justyna is employed as a nanny to a small, sick child.

Not long after their arrival, Janusz disappears, never to be seen again. Rafal is certain his father is dead; Zygmunt, now thoroughly disturbed, wanders aimlessly about the city and begins to see visions of the Pope, with whom he has long conversations.

During the course of his work, Janusz meets an attractive Bulgarian woman, Irina (Eljana Nikolova Popova), who invites him to stay with her in her apartment; but just as his happiness seems assured, he becomes involved in a ludicrously amateurish and bungled robbery involving a valuable pedigreed pig and, as a result, becomes wanted for murder.

Justyna, too, meets an unfortunate fate when she attracts the attention of a couple of rapists. But none of this rings very true, because these beleaguered Poles seem to exist only as fictional constructs, never as flesh-and-blood characters facing the problem of survival in an alien environment.

Technical credits are efficient.

The Ballad of the Windshield Washers

(DRAMA -- ITALIAN)

Production: A Mikado release of a P.F.A. Films production, in collaboration with RAI Cinemafiction. Produced by Pier Francesco Aiello. Directed by Peter Del Monte. Screenplay, Peter Del Monte, Sergio Bazzini, Dominik Wieczorkowski, loosely based on the novel "The Polish Car Window Cleaner" by E. Albinati.

Crew: Camera (Cinecitta color), Pasquale Mari; editor, Roberto Missiroli; music, Dario Lucantoni; production designer, Anna Maria Donatella Sciveres; costume designer, Paola Marchesin; sound (Dolby SR), Candido Raini; assistant director, Umberto Riccioni. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 10, 1998. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Zygmunt ..... Olek Mincer Justyna ..... Agata Buzek Rafal ..... Kim Rossi Stuart Pawel ..... Andrzej Grabowski Helena ..... Grazyna Wolszak Irina ..... Eljana Nikolova Popova Marchetto ..... Marco Lucarelli Marcolino ..... Gabriele Bocciarelli The Pope ..... Stefan Burczyk Janusz ..... Romuald Andrzej Klos

More Film

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    Film Review: 'Vice'

    From Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, the leaders of right-wing Republican politics have tended to be fire-breathers (or, in the case of Reagan, a saber rattler who could make snake oil taste like honey). But Dick Cheney broke that mold. Speaking in soft terse corporate tones, with the precision squint of someone [...]

  • Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones'On the

    Why Armie Hammer Cooked for the Cast of 'On the Basis of Sex'

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her hometown on Sunday for the New York premiere of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic starring Felicity Jones tells the Supreme Court justice’s origin story. The 85-year-old Brooklynite received a standing ovation when she entered the Walter Reade Theater — a testament to the Notorious RBG’s rock-star status. Ginsburg [...]

  • Paul McCartney, Emma Stone Take Aim

    Paul McCartney, Emma Stone Take Aim at Bullying With 'Who Cares' Short

    Paul McCartney and Emma Stone get surreal for a good cause in the short film inspired by McCartney’s new anti-bullying song “Who Cares,” which held its premiere Sunday night at Beverly Hills’ Fine Arts Theater. In the short directed by Brantley Guitierrez (a longtime McCartney tour photographer) and choreographer Ryan Heffington, the music legend and [...]

  • Black Panther Production Design

    Netflix Isn't Killing Movie Theaters, Study Shows

    Netflix isn’t killing movie theaters. At least, that’s the take-away from a new study conducted by EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics group, which finds that people who go to movies in theaters more frequently also consume more streaming content. That flies in the face of the “conventional wisdom” of box office sages, who grimly ascribe [...]

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Weaves Inclusive

    The Secret Power of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is Inclusion

    In a year that gave us films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” this weekend’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” delivers one more home run for underrepresented groups in media in 2018. An animated film that takes advantage of Sony’s piece of the Marvel pie, “Spider-Verse” not only puts a mixed-race, middle-class teenager in the [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Jeff Bridges to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2019 Golden Globes

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Jeff Bridges will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 76th Golden Globes on Jan. 6, 2019. Bridges has starred in films like “The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart,” “True Grit,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is delighted to bestow the 2019 [...]

  • Charlotte Rampling Euphoria

    Berlin Film Festival: Charlotte Rampling to Receive Honorary Golden Bear

    Oscar-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, whose career has spanned more than 100 film and television roles, will be honored with a special Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The fest will also pay homage to Rampling by screening a selection of her work, including Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” (2003) [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content