"Polish Wedding" has a very lively musical score. Unfortunately, it isn't completely in keeping with the tone of the piece.
But that isn't the only thing that doesn't work in this extremely uneven comedy-drama. Newcomer Theresa Connelly's script can't seem to strike the right balance between irreverent humor and social drama, and her direction is every bit as tentative.
But her worst mistake is in the film's casting. Despite the fact that they are fine actors, Claire Danes and Gabriel Byrne seem woefully miscast as two members of the Pzoniaks, a Polish-American family living in a low-income Detroit suburb.
Patriarch Bolek (Byrne) is overworked at the local bakery, leaving him with little time for his family. This has strained relations with his wife, the still-beautiful Jadzia (Lena Olin), and has led her into the arms of a wealthy Polish businessman (Rade Serbedzija).
The only thing Bolek and Jadzia seem to have in common these days is distress over the behavior of their daughter, Hala (Danes), a sexually adventurous high school dropout.
But Hala goes too far when she agrees to represent the Virgin Mary in the annual church procession even after discovering she is pregnant, as the result of a fling with handsome local cop Russell Schuster (Adam Trese).
Unfortunately for writer-director Connelly, these predicaments are not nearly as interesting as she seems to think they are, and there's a serious problem with the film's pacing. Though it takes about 90 minutes to find out whether the title event will come to pass, it feels like it takes 100 years.
And the subplots involving Jadzia's indiscretions and marital squabbles with the oldest son (Daniel LaPaine) and his wife (Mili Avital) detract from the main story, rather than adding intended emotional depth.
Despite their broad characterizations and bad Slavic accents, Byrne and Danes are both charming, and Olin almost saves things single-handedly with her charismatic performance.
"Polish Wedding" is rated PG-13 for profanity, vulgar gestures and use of vulgar slang, brief simulated sex, violent slapping, nude artwork and child nudity and use of some ethnic slurs.
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