Carefree Tonia (Krystyna Janda), an apolitical young mother in Communist Poland) finds herself in prison and endures a terrible torture to force her into a confession for a crime she has no knowledge of in this gripping, heartbreaking drama.
Produced by Polish legend Andrzej Wajda, and banned by the Polish government for eight years as 'inflammatory and dangerous', legend has it that director Ryszard finally smuggled a copy into Europe, facilitating the opening of the Cannes Film Festival in 1990 (where Janda went won Best Actress for her gritty leading role).
The plot is simple: Tonia goes out drinking. She wakes up in an overcrowded prison, without any idea why she is there and during interrogation, it emerges that the regime wants her to fabricate evidence against a former lover. She refuses, they persist, and the film parades a relentless catalogue of horrors as she moves, via the edge of madness, into defiant self-parody and a gruesome suicide attempt. The anti-Communist message is clear, the brutality of the regime graphically explicit.
Perhaps this should be compulsory viewing for people who think these things didn't happen in Stalinist Eastern Europe. It's also worth noting the appearance of Agnieska Holland as Witowska, who has gone on to become one of the most successful female directors in Europe.
A complete battery of the senses, designed to shock and disturb on the highest, most gruesome level, making it horrifically compelling