1946, and amid the wreckage of a devastated town in West Poland, love grows between a Polish war widow and a shy American soldier too shattered by his experience of suffering to return home. As the troubled couple, barely able to communicate in words, try tentatively to find happiness together in a bleak landscape of doubt, suspicion, and hardship, Zanussi effortlessly avoids all the usual pitfalls, directing with exemplary restraint and an assured sense of period and place. With excellent performances from Wilson and the truly wonderful Komorowska, the film transcends its status as a sombre, sensitive love story, and becomes a moving meditation on the dignity and indomitability of the human spirit when beset by pain, cruelty, despair and death. Deeply human, with acute observation, wry humour, and a startling finale, it is as powerful and uplifting as Zanussi's earlier The Contract.
Cast and crew