Polish Wedding (1998) There's no such thing as a quiet moment for the Pzoniak family of Hamtramck, Mich., whose combustible home life is the subject of Polish Wedding… PG-13 Comedy Drama Mili Avital Gabriel Byrne Claire Danes Lena Olin
Movie Review

Polish Wedding (1998)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
EW's GRADE
C

Details Rated: PG-13; Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Mili Avital, Gabriel Byrne, Claire Danes and Lena Olin

There's no such thing as a quiet moment for the Pzoniak family of Hamtramck, Mich., whose combustible home life is the subject of Polish Wedding (Fox Searchlight). Hyper-dramatic matriarch Jadzia (Lena Olin) smolders even when she's in her bathrobe, vamping to her children at the breakfast table: She calls herself a queen, but by occupation she's an office cleaner. Silent patriarch Bolek (Gabriel Byrne), a baker, tunes out everything he doesn't like, including the fact that his wife is cheating on him. The four Pzoniak sons clang and bang their way around the house; rebellious daughter Hala (Claire Danes), who adores her father, doesn't imagine she's anything like her mother, but of course she is. She taunts young men with her wildness, and one day that wildness gets her in just the kind of trouble Jadzia courted years ago.

Inspired by her own roots in Hamtramck's Polish-American community, first-time writer-director Theresa Connelly aims for a European feel, perhaps a dusting of art-house confectioners' sugar on this ethnic All in the Family story. But these Pzoniaks don't come to life—not like the Bunkers, not like the Secrets & Lies crew—because Connelly has packed in too many high-concept personalities and overseasoned them with too much self-conscious spiciness. The operatic climax moves from blasphemy during a church rite to Jadzia and Bolek's rediscovery of their love in a small pantry lined floor to ceiling with jars of pickles. That's the problem with Polish Wedding, the condiments crowd out the human beings. C

Originally posted Jul 24, 1998 Published in issue #442 Jul 24, 1998 Order article reprints