Published Sep 23, 2008After 30-plus years abroad and a trail of classic films behind him, director Jerzy Skolimowski has finally returned to his Polish roots in the beautiful and evocative Four Nights with Anna.
The film tells the story of Leon (Artur Steranko), a middle-aged man working at the hospital crematorium in a tiny village in Poland. Leon is timid and barely ever says a word. And yet even without words actor Artur Steranko is able to portray the character with enormous clarity and insight, making the film an intimate study of human nature and behaviour.
The plot is initiated when Leon falls in love with a seemingly unknown woman he sees from his window at night: Anna. Watching her becomes an obsession for Leon, until he finally decides to enter her house in the middle of the night while she is asleep. There he leaves imperceptible traces of his presence but never enough to raise alarm for the oblivious Anna.
With a haunting score by Michal Lorenc, Four Nights with Anna is dark and at times, even ominous. We cannot understand Leon, no matter how close he comes to us, and his behaviour is bizarre at best. But beyond these feelings of unsettlement comes a deep sympathy for our protagonist, who simply has nothing else to live for other than his love for Anna. The film also offers occasional flashes of humour that help balance the tone and render the heavier scenes all the more poignant.
Quite simply, Four Nights with Anna is as subtle as it is complex, and is definitely one to watch. (Axia)