Excellent Reviews of "United States of Love" in UK

Zjednoczone Stany Miłości (United States of Love), a film directed by Tomasz Wasilewski and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, was released theatrically in UK on November 18. On that occasion in the UK media appeared a lot of new and enthusiastic reviews. 

Nation on the Point of Transition

“Tomasz Wasilewski’s United States of Love may take place just after 1989’s felling of the Berlin Wall but little of the era’s euphoric optimism transfers to the Polish writer-director’s dispassionate yet engrossing third feature. Broken down into loosely formed chapters whose pages overlap and intersect with purposeful randomness, Wasilewski’s film sees his nation on the point of transition from its barren communist past to a new era of potential enlightenment: clothes, electronic goods and Whitney Houston posters no less. However, it is the day to day lives and struggles of four women who are our focus” – writes Matthew Anderson from cine-vue.com.

“The film’s emotional distance is indebted to directors such as Farhadi and Haneke. Its bodies look as if they have been painted by Lucian Freud. This is a vision of purgatory” – ads Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian. “Although communism has fallen and a new era of optimism is around the corner, the reality for four women is different. A grey-washed colour palette that takes its cues from cigarette ash and despair suggests that any hope of self-fulfilment is likely to be thwarted. The talented young writer-director Tomasz Wasilewski has an eye for eloquent framing and touches of absurdity, both of which evoke the work of Austrian film-maker Ulrich Seidl” adds Wendy Ide, also from The Guardian.

Compelling Portrait of Female Isolation

“They are all compelled towards a notion of love, but it is something forever out of reach, because the political can never fail to affect the personal, and subsequently the psychological. The society around them is concerned with notions of greater freedom, but the options remain suffocatingly limited, as the country and its people still struggle to progress from their past. As such, the uniting link of the title would seem to be that of emotional distance and falsehoods. United States of Love is a compelling portrait of female isolation in a particular social and historical context, but one that also succeeds as a more universal examination of repression, albeit one that’s often unsettling” – writes Josh Slater-Williams from VODzilla.co.

Touching and Universal Film

“If Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski was alive, he would probably consider hiring 36-year-old Tomasz Wasilevski as a cinematographer. Both use the same colours in order to paint Poland in late 1980s and early 1990s. They remember the same things and created a poetic portrait of a generation that had their lives split by politic events allegiances. Women in Kieslowski’s and Wasilevski’s films manifest a desire to start life anew, free of personal commitments, belongings and grief. They search for love persistently but in vain (…).The scenes are raw, plain, and the emptiness is overwhelming. Emotions are the same in Western and Eastern Europe, but their expression is very different. The sensitivity of the actors and the director and actors allow for a vivid representation of the lack of freedom and spirituality of these women. The United States of Love is a touching and universal film because it reflects the the complex emotional state of women. And it is vibrant because it unveils a plethora of sentiments in such a condensed atmosphere” says Maysa Moncao in her article on dmovies.org page.

Four Intriguing and Inter-Related Stories

Roy Stafford (globalfilmstudies.com) writes: “The English title of the film is ironic in two ways. It could be read as a comment directed at the desire of Poles in 1990 for the materialism and ‘freedom’ of American society. It could also refer to the sense of a community united in pursuit of the erotic or simply the possible comfort of an emotional relationship. Either way it is a dark prospect, emphasised by the film’s washed out colours and drab setting. This certainly isn’t a ‘date movie’ or a Friday night feelgood film (…).These four intriguing and inter-related stories offer plenty to engage the viewer but the visual style of the film is in some ways its most memorable feature. The young director did well to attract to the project the cinematographer Oleg Mutu from Romania and one of the principal creatives behind the Romanian New Wave. Mutu, Wasilewski and his designers create images drained of colour – so much so that before I looked at the trailer below or stills from the film, I had forgotten that the film was not shot in black and white. (…). I’ll remember the shot for a long time”.

Deeply Personal

“Wasilewski’s intelligent, engaging narrative not only portrays women in a realistic and truthful light but it also highlights the problems with a capitalist society. Cinematographer Oleg Mutu’s bleak, pastel painted world shares parallels with the characters’ equally dreary existence. This is a society where nothing grows, where people live in carbon-copy flat blocks and live their lives behind closed doors. Whilst the movie itself is deeply personal and voyeuristic, some of the camera work does not fit the mould. The director maintains a respectful distance when filming some of the more extreme scenes but there are a lot of over-the-shoulder shots that depersonalise aspects of the narrative and avoid emotional contact. The chronology of the script is also, at times, mildly confusing, with storylines being stopped and started at unusual intervals” – writes Chloe Sizer, theupcoming.co.uk.

The Promise of Freedom, Exploitation and Change

“United States of Love doesn’t just examine what people do with new found freedom but the avalanche of emotions that accompany that freedom (…).The beauty of this film is not only are you watching the lives of others but that the women, the male characters are tertiary, themselves can be used as metaphors of: old Poland; the promise of freedom, exploitation and change. Themes of alienation, love, desperation and freedom and how these feel inhabit every single frame of this film” – writes Rosalynn Try-Hane in her article (battleroyalewithcheese.com). “At the time when the rest of the world was celebrating the bravery of those in former Communist countries for breaking free of the Soviet stranglehold, this implies that little had changed for ordinary women” – as adds the author.

Zjednoczone Stany Miłości (United States of Love), a film directed by Tomasz Wasilewski and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, was released theatrically in UK on November 18. Distribution is handled by Matchbox Films.

Nomination for European Film Award 2016

Writer-director Tomasz Wasilewski is in the running for the European Film Award 2016 for European Screenwriter for his work on Zjednoczone Stany Miłości (United States of Love).

Marta Sikorska