Putting a youthful idealist under the microscope, Zanussi demonstrates that in a Communist bureaucracy the constant factor is the network of corruption which ensures that some people are more equal than others. Obviously this notion rang out more boldly in its Polish context. Obviously, too, some of the symbolism is pretty basic, with the hero frustrated in his dream of climbing the Himalayas and having to settle for a window-cleaner's cradle. But Zanussi's quasi-scientific approach, building a mosaic of tangential facts and perceptions out of his findings, often manages to turn ordinary life into something extraordinary. Moments of tenderness and surprise abound, especially in a love affair which illuminates the film with shy, sidelong grace. If boredom nevertheless lurks not too far away, it is because the images are too conventionally framed.