Polish Wedding (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Domestic Comedy, Family Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 17, 1998 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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It's impossible to dispute suburban Detroit cleaning woman Jadzia Pzoniak when she tells the rich lover who wants to own her that, with five children and a husband, she's already a queen. As Jadzia, Lena Olin proves to be first-time filmmaker Theresa Connelly's strongest ally in her quest to invest the squabbles and liaisons of a working-class Polish family with lyrical grandeur and absurd, understated humor. Connelly amusingly highlights the sly evasions and outright bravado that each of the clan's members must practice in order to find fulfillment outside the family. But it's the gravitational force of the family itself that lends Polish Wedding's central drama an epic intensity. Olin's fierce matriarch, simmering through a long, uneasy truce with domesticity, yearns for the spark of passion even as she dominates her children's lives. Meanwhile, daughter Hala (Claire Danes), the darling of the family, walks the same fine line between passion and respectability. Although Olin's performance is a revelation, Danes can't quite match her firepower; the complex emotional shadings of the film's final stretch elude the young actress. But with rock-solid Gabriel Byrne onboard as the family's wry, resigned patriarch -- and with Connelly's rich sense of place and community anchoring the film -- Polish Wedding often succeeds in its mission to celebrate the desperate passions of ordinary lives.