Part coming of age story set in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, and part personal testament by lead actress Krystyna Janda on her husband, Edward Klosinski’s battle with cancer during filming, Andrzej Wajda’s poignant, if disarticulated Sweet Rush, on the surface, suggests kinship with the metacinema of Abbas Kiarostami in exploring the interpenetration between art and life. This ambiguity is suggested in the film’s opening sequence, as Janda awakens gasping for breath in a sparely furnished room before expressing her recounting her husband’s diagnosis, reluctance to embark on a new project, and disbelief that he would succumb to his illness. However, inasmuch as the scene suggests a shift from dream to reality, it also underscores its construction – Janda’s acting in the staged awakening and delivery of the subsequent monologue. The juncture between reality and fiction is also reflected in the image of a film crew setting up a scene that transitions to the sequence of a country doctor (Jan Englert) diagnosing his wife Marta’s (Janda) terminal illness. Still mourning the loss of her sons and distanced from her overworked husband, Marta begins to turn her attention to a handsome young man, Bogus (Pawel Szajda), briefly finding a renewed sense of purpose in her life in the midst of disillusionment and uncertainty. At the core of Wajda’s interweaving stories of grief and loss is the nature of performance. Juxtaposing Janda’s real-life ordeal with the tragic denouement of the fiction film, Wajda transforms a seemingly conventional, period romance into an intimate and contemporary tale of enduring love and, in the process, elevates the grace of everyday struggle into the realm of art.
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