Starring: Krystyna Janda, Kasia Smutniak, Lorenzo de Moor
Directed by: Jacek Borcuch
Some directors seem to have a favourite cinematic habitat where they are able to better express themselves. Five years ago Jacek Borcuch directed Lasting (2013), a cruel tale of youth drenched in the Spanish sunlight. Once again, like a lizard in need of warming up, Borcuch aims at the Mediterranean coast – this time to Tuscany, usually a quick win as a filming location.
In his new journey to the south of Europe, the Polish director took with him veteran Polish actress Krystyna Janda, who has been a magnet for difficult roles, appearing in some of Kieślowski’s and Wajda’s finest works.
Dolce Fine Giornata, which means “sweet end of the day” in Italian, is about everything but sweet life, despite the idyllic scenery. Borcuch’s film revolves around the late-life crisis of Polish Nobel winner Maria (Janda) in the small provincial town of Volterra. Apparently Maria does everything to make her life difficult. She enters a love affair with Nazeer (Lorenzo de Moor) a well-integrated Egyptian refugee. Moreover her controversial statements about immigration and vision of the Old Continent after a terrorist attack in Rome antagonize many people, Maria’s apprehensive daughter Anna (Kasia Smutniak) most of all. Maria is determined to continue on the path she has taken, were it not for the fact that she does not know what to do with herself.
Janda shows no signs of artistic decay in the role of combative persona who finds the courage of her ideas and choices, regardless of her apparently self-destructive behaviour. Even if Janda does not master Italian like other Polish cinematic personalities such as Jerzy Stuhr and Krzysztof Zanussi, the dialogue delivery in a non-native language is pretty convincing.
The alluring shots composed by Michał Dymek demonstrate that the experiences he had as a camera operator on Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s sets in The Lure and Fugue paid off. But Maria’s hedonistic lifestyle, set against a bucolic decor, clashes with the severity of the topics which Borcuch touches upon. This is the main reason why the storyline is not always plausible. Nonetheless, Dolce Fine Giornata is a solid and boredom-proof one-hander which would lose most of its sheen without Janda’s presence. Her performance in this feature film earned her a World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the Sundance festival this year.