×

A Week in the Life of a Man

Laced with rich Polish irony and clearly showing the influence of Krzysztof Kieslowski, actor-turned-director Jerzy Stuhr's third feature is an incisive analysis of the double standards and self-delusion apparently rampant in late-'90s Poland. Intelligent and subtle, "A Week in the Life of a Man" should certainly play the fest route in the months to come, and could also find theatrical slots in some territories.

With:
Adam Borowski - Jerzy Stuhr Anna Borowski - Gosia Dobrowolska Adam's Mother - Danuta Szaflarska Dominik - Alex Mozdzynski With: Ewa Skibinska, Krzysztof Stroinski, Jacek Romanowski, Maciej Niesiolowski, Janusz Michalowski, Anna Samusionek, Karina Kunkiewwicz.

Laced with rich Polish irony and clearly showing the influence of Krzysztof Kieslowski, actor-turned-director Jerzy Stuhr’s third feature is an incisive analysis of the double standards and self-delusion apparently rampant in late-’90s Poland. Intelligent and subtle, “A Week in the Life of a Man” should certainly play the fest route in the months to come, and could also find theatrical slots in some territories.

Stuhr first came to attention as an actor in a number of provocative, anti-government, pro-Solidarity pics 20 years ago, playing lean, angst-ridden characters in Kieslowski’s “Camera Buff” and “Blind Chance” and Andrzej Wajda’s “Rough Treatment.” Now he has the well-fed look perfect for the hypocritical, weak-willed vacillator at the center of his new film. He’s a lawyer, working for the Polish equivalent of the DA’s office. Every morning, after his routine swim, he passionately prosecutes wrongdoers, barely aware that, in his private life, he is as guilty, if not more so, of similar crimes.

It’s a momentous week in the life of Adam Borowski. His new, accusatory book is being published; he is buying his dream house, after selling the apartment in which his wife was born; and he’s happily rehearsing as a member of a male choir about to go on a concert tour of Britain. On the downside, his mother is terminally ill, he finds himself in a financial bind, and his decision to end a longtime liaison with a beautiful young mistress doesn’t turn out quite the way he expected.

Meanwhile, his wife, Anna (Gosia Dobrowolska), who yearns for a child, is given a prestigious award for her work with orphans. Adam had expected a cash prize, which would have come in handy, because his bills are mounting up; instead, the award is in the form of a statuette. In addition, Anna feels the urge to adopt a handicapped child who has cottoned up to her in the orphanage.

During the course of the week, Adam prosecutes a young man for smuggling palm-top computers; a shabby young woman for abandoning her baby in a public toilet; a couple of vicious skinheads for beating up an Arab; and a young man for murdering his mother. Outside the courtroom, he plots to cheat the tax department with some underhanded charity donations; complicates the situation for the adopted child; refuses to pay for the expensive treatment his mother needs; and proves to be almost as bigoted as the skinheads, not in the racial sense, but against members of the left.

Adam is blithely unaware of the ironies swirling around him, and, despite his good intentions regarding infidelity on Monday, by the following Saturday falls easy prey to a couple of deliciously desirable journalists who photograph him in a compromising position for blackmail purposes. And all the while the choir rehearsals continue, despite the fact that one of the singers, a close friend of Adam’s, is mentally ill. More irony: The piece the choir is rehearsing is a musicalization of a speech from Hamlet — “What a piece of work is a man!”

Stuhr perfectly conveys the ambiguities and self-delusion of his character and provides the film with a strong center. Dobrowolska, working in a Polish film for the first time in 18 years, after making a name for herself in several Australian and Canadian pics, is mature and confident as the long-suffering wife, and her big scene of tearful anger is perfectly pitched. Other members of the cast, most of them unidentified both onscreen and in press material, are flawless down the line.

Film is professionally packaged, with fluid photography by Edward Klosinski and a subtle music score by Wojciech Kilar.

Popular on Variety

A Week in the Life of a Man

Polish

Production: A Zebra Film release of a Zebra Film-TVP production. Produced by Juliusz Machulski. Co-producers, Jacek Moczydlowski, Jacek Bromski. Directed, written by Jerzy Stuhr.

Crew: Camera (color), Edward Klosinski; editor, Elzbieta Kurkowska; music, Wojciech Kilar; production designer, Monika Sajko-Gradowska; costume designer, Elzbieta Radke; sound (Dolby), Marek Wronko, Katarzyna Dzida; assistant director, Gabriele Locovone. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 1, 1999. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Adam Borowski - Jerzy Stuhr Anna Borowski - Gosia Dobrowolska Adam's Mother - Danuta Szaflarska Dominik - Alex Mozdzynski With: Ewa Skibinska, Krzysztof Stroinski, Jacek Romanowski, Maciej Niesiolowski, Janusz Michalowski, Anna Samusionek, Karina Kunkiewwicz.

More Film

  • Hustlers Box Office

    Box Office: Why 'Hustlers' Soared While 'The Goldfinch' Flopped

    Though STX’s “Hustlers” and Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch” couldn’t be more different in terms of genre or style, the two new releases prove the divergent paths that mid-budget movies can take at the box office. Both films arrived last weekend in an environment that has been increasingly hostile to anything that’s not of the superhero [...]

  • The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman' Set for Centerpiece Screening at Rome Festival

    Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” will be among highlights of the upcoming Rome Film Festival, following its European launch as the closing film at the BFI London Film Festival. As with the Oct. 13 London premiere, key cast members of the hotly anticipated Netflix film are expected to attend the screening in Rome, as is Scorsese. [...]

  • 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be

    Korean Comedy 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be Remade in French

    Currently on-release South Korean comedy drama, “Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” is to be remade in French. “Mr. Lee” is the story of a mentally-challenged man who learns that he has a sick daughter, and embarks on a voyage of discovery with his new family member. A remake deal was struck between Yong Film, part of [...]

  • The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos

    Korea: 'The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos’ Rules Chuseok Holiday Box Office

    Local films dominated cinemagoing in South Korea over the 4-day Chuseok holiday weekend, traditionally one of the year’s busiest periods. The winner was “The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos.” Opening on Wednesday, the CJ Entertainment release earned $20.2 million from 1.97 million admissions over five days. A film adaptation of CJ E&M’s 2014 hit TV [...]

  • Disco

    New Europe Sells Toronto and San Sebastian Film 'Disco' to Several Territories (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jan Naszewski’s New Europe Film Sales has signed several distribution deals on “Disco,” which had its world premiere in Toronto Film Festival’s Discovery section and makes its European premiere in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition. The film has been picked up by Palace for Australia and New Zealand, Artcam for Czech Republic and Slovakia, Kino [...]

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” out front, Chinese action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend, while the few American titles in play have failed to attract many moviegoers. Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from consultancy [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content