Hala (Claire Danes) is as sassy as her mother ( Lena Olin) and as sensitive as her father (Gabriel Byrne). It's a winning combination, but when she falls for the neighborhood cop on the beat, their summer romance stretche... more »s her family's strength and support to outrageous lengths, Now the rush is on to plan the nuptials - despite an extremely reluctant groom and other hilarious complications!« less
"Life is not ALWAYS funny, and neither was this movie, but I have to believe it was not meant to be. The characters and setting are rich and believable (isn't this what movies and books are about-- suspension of disbelief, and being taken to another time and place?). No, I didn't sit there and laugh the whole time, but I did feel deep emotion throughout the movie. Anger, indignation, pride, empathy, amazement (Lena Olin's character is quite a wildwoman), joy, curiosity, sadness, pity, regret, hope... and the list goes on.No, darlings, it's not a Jim Carrey brainless comedy, and it's not a Minnie Driver brainy comedy, either. It is a drama that is funny occasionally because life is funny occasionally. (Sometimes you either laugh or you cry, you know. This movie is an excellent example of that.) And if that weren't enough, well then, what about watching it for Gabriel Byrne? He is compelling as the Polish, chain-smoking, flour-dusted baker-- husband to the dashing and determined Lena Olin and father to the fresh and curious Claire Danes. Byrne's performance is reason enough to watch this film. For one thing, his accent is absolutely perfect. The viewer is not reminded that this is an Irishman, because he plays the Pole through and through. Though Olin's character seems to be running the show, one look at Byrne sitting on the steps blowing smoke into the sky and flashing his dark-fringed moody blues is enough to make you feel this man knows what's going on. He's no dummy. But he accepts the imperfections in his life because, well, life isn't perfect. Unlike most of us, he is finding contentment in a world that would leave most wanting. There are no cellphones, cable TV, or credit cards, no designer clothing, nothing trendy at all in this movie, yet the world of the characters is complete, and in turn, the story is focused on the people and what is truly important in their lives. SO different from many movies these days. This is simply the story of a Polish family in Detroit who are trying in their own way to be who they are (some of them still trying to find out who they are). After seeing the story unfold before me, I felt like I had a taken a glimpse behind closed doors. I'd say that makes the movie effective, wouldn't you?I would happily watch this movie again and again."
Nothing polish about it except the food
ohsuzannah | 04/21/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This movie showed disrespect for all Polish people. The person writting this movie evidently knew very little about Polish tradition or cuture. She should research her work before using involving a nationality."
QUIRKY, AMUSING, HUMANIZING
VINCENT P TARSITANO | PORT ORANGE, FL USA | 05/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not own the DVD. I own the soundtrack cd (great score!). But, I must say that there was a lot to enjoy in this movie. Quirky is just fine with me. And then, to be able to look at the fabulous Lena Olin!! I, too, am from an "ethnic" family, and, thus, look at portrayals of ethnic people with a particularly sensitive eye. In that light, I must say that I did not find anything so terribly or intentionally offensive in the portrayal of characters or nationalities here. As an adult, hopefully one realizes that there is a great deal of variety within each ethnic group. There is a lot of universal stuff here, too, as it relates to family and humanity. In fact, if the subject here had been Italians, this film might have been directed by Giuseppe Tornatore ["Cinema Paradiso," "Malena"]. I agree with other reviewers who recommended that some viewers need to take a chill pill and see the humanity and universality here. VERY MUCH WORTH A LOOK. Ciao!"
I didn't see the beginning....
J. Harvey Holcombe | Charlotte, NC | 05/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"... and, in fact, I didn't even know the name until I came here and looked this movie up for reference to see its name. But, I watched it just last week on HBO, and I was absolutely riveted. I was flipping channels, and I ended up watching the entire thing standing up in my living room!
I have read the other reviews here, but I will say this movie captured my imagination and I found the portrayals by Lena Olin and Gabriel Byrne to be particularly stirring. Claire Danes was fine in a supporting role, but it was the tension and love between her parents which really moved me.
Perhaps my imagination was captured so readily because my family immigrated from Poland some 70 years ago, and I wanted to see this portrayal of Polish life and community. But what stayed with me was the breathless tension between Jadzia and her husband, the power this beautiful woman had over him, the confusion and strength in his silence, the seeming clumsiness of her values, their stumbling around their own lives and loves. There is something quite endearing about the wanton way in which they live and love.
It may not change the world, but this movie certainly transported me for an afternoon.
J. Harvey Holcombe | 01/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie, mainly because the city that it is set in, Hamtramck, is where my mother and grandparents were born. Being 3rd generation Polish-American in Detroit, I can really relate to this movie, Polish mothers tend to be the final word in the family, much like Lena Olin's character in the movie. Over all it's a very good movie, touching and funny, especially when Lena Olin and her four sons go after the boy who impregnated Hala (Claire Danes) with hockey sticks. It was very touching to see the church featured in the movie, St. Florian's, because it has long been an integral part of my family. A fantastic movie, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good movie that is NOT a "chick-flick" but one of those movies that makes you feel better about life in the long run."