Picks and Pans Review: Moonlighting

updated 11/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Who'd have guessed the isolation felt by Poles living abroad would be the theme of one of the best pictures of the year? Director Jerzy (The Shout) Skolimowski, a Polish expatriate, and onetime collaborator of Roman Polanski's, wrote the screenplay. It's about four Warsaw construction workers who come to London to renovate the town house of their wealthy boss, then find themselves completely cut off from their native country when martial law is declared at home. Only one of the workers—the foreman—speaks English, and so he becomes the others' sole link to the outside world. Their story combines suspense and psychological revelation with healthy doses of comedy (slapstick, at that) in a tight, coherent mix. The acting is also superb: In a casting coup for a low-budget film, Jeremy Irons agreed to play the foreman, reportedly to show that he can go beyond the elegant types he played in Brideshead Revisited and The French Lieutenant's Woman. He succeeds completely. Still, most of the credit for this film goes to Skolimowski, who was writing it when martial law was declared last year. That event makes an already striking film even more timely and powerful. (PG)

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