Polish Wedding

on July 17, 1998 by Michelle Santilli
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   "Polish Wedding" is the worst kind of disappointment: It has a remarkable cast which any director would covet, and the kind of budget that would make most first-time filmmakers salivate. Unfortunately, writer/director Theresa Connolly has not mustered any semblance of a story; in fact, its lack of focus is so severe it causes the tone to shift from heavy drama one moment to serial campy comedy the next.
   Hala (Claire Danes) lives with her large family including four brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew, and her parents (Lena Olin and Gabriel Byrne) in a Polish suburb of Detroit. The brood devours food and each other with the intensity of someone who hasn't eaten in a week. Her parents were forced to marry young and since then the romance in their marriage has dwindled.
   Her mother, a cleaning lady, is having an affair with a man who works in the building where she scrubs toilets. Her father, a baker, works odd hours and lives in a world of his own. Hala's hormones rage out of control and she soon finds herself pregnant. Her family goes after her suitor with sticks in an attempt to persuade him to marry her. He eventually does so of his own accord and Hala's parents reconcile.
   Sadly, Connolly had the chance to give a beautiful, fresh perspective to the Polish-American experience, but has instead rehashed tired stereotypes. Worse, she directs the actors into flat, unemotional, and stiff performances. This is especially disturbing in the case of Danes whose acting doesn't compare to her previous exemplary work. Overall one wonders what drew such a fine cast to this pointless, and wholly plotless, material.    Starring Lena Olin, Gabriel Byrne and Claire Danes. Written and directed by Theresa Connelly. Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Julia Chasman and Geoff Stier. A Fox Searchlight release. Comedy/drama. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sensuality and language. Running time: 106 min.
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