The Maids of Wilko | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Maids of Wilko 

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Adapted from a short story by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, Andrzej Wajda's bittersweet Chekhovian tale about a household of five sisters and the man they love unspools with all the languid grace of its landed gentry. Wiktor, who manages a monastery, pays a visit to the Wilko estate after an absence of 15 years; he's been scarred by his battle experiences in World War I and by his affair with a sixth sister, who committed suicide over him. His unexpected social call stirs up yearnings and memories among the surviving siblings, each of whom represents a different aspect of femininity, and Wajda paints their various relationships with light strokes, hinting at the thwarted desire and simmering anger behind their upper-crust decorum. The sense of loss and regret in this 1979 feature often recalls Bergman, though Wajda's meticulous re-creation of the milieu--exquisitely shot by Edward Klosinski with mostly natural light--also calls to mind Stanley Kubrick's neglected historical drama Barry Lyndon. Daniel Olbrychski (a Wajda regular who starred in Ashes) delivers a fine performance as the glum, reticent Wiktor, who's chastened by the consequences of his indecisiveness. 111 min. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Thursday, December 14, 6:30, 773-281-4114.

--Ted Shen


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