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Happy Man Review

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A wannabe writer's existence is jolted into turmoil by the news that his mother is terminally ill.

★★★★★

Krzysztof Kieslowski concentrated on the paternal angle in Dekalog 4's take on the commandment, Honour Thy Father And Thy Mother. So it seems fitting that such a keen acolyte as Malgorzata Szumowska should explore the flip side of the tablet in this impressive debut feature.

While heavily influenced by Kieslowski, Szumowska still manages to impose her own character and concerns on this ironic, melancholic study of a wannabe writer whose existence is jolted into turmoil by the news that his mother is terminally ill.

Making subtle contrasts between the contemplative and the active, the individual and the institutional, this portrait of modern Poland also works as a domestic melodrama, with Jankowski's attempts to woo single mother Jankowska-Cieslak excruciating in their desperate discomfiture. Grimly engrossing.

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