The Maids of Wilko | Chicago Reader

The Maids of Wilko

Andrzej Wajda's bittersweet Chekhovian tale (1979) about a household of five sisters and the man they love unspools with all the languid grace of its landed gentry. Daniel Olbrychski gives a fine performance as the glum, reticent manager of a monastery who pays a visit to the Wilko estate after an absence of 15 years, scarred by World War I and 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 anger and thwarted desire behind their upper-crust decorum. The sense of loss and regret often recalls Bergman, though Wajda's meticulously re-created milieu, exquisitely shot by Edward Klosinski with mostly natural light, also calls to mind Barry Lyndon. In Polish with subtitles. 111 min.


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