The candlelit graveyard flows into the panorama of city lights, the dead now mere pinpricks of light in the passing of time. We observe the mundane artefacts of family life, the routines which still go on though this family's lifestyle has been fractured by the death, a few days ago, of the husband. His ghost watches on, unable to leave, unable to believe in the pain of separation.
Wife and son struggle to cope, to establish their own routines, their own method of coping. They can believe in the pain, they just have to find ways to suppress it. Routines. Keep busy. She has to tidy up her husband's affairs - he was a lawyer, one who had been involved in political cases. This is a Poland about to break out of the stranglehold of Soviet domination, a Poland beginning to assert its own independence and affirm its own political dissonance. Law is political; politics is embodied in law.
The wife has to make decisions about a case her husband had been handling. Can she become involved? Should she trust this political case to an old colleague? And her life goes on, troubled now by the arrival of an old suitor. She is still a very desirable woman, an intelligent woman, an educated woman, a woman with a future, not least in her son. And yet the past haunts and claws at her. She realises how much she loved her husband, how much it hurts to lose him.
And this is a Poland with a future, a Poland which might only find consummation of the future in rediscovering the values of its past and throwing off the cloak of bereavement and widows weeds in which it is shrouded. And this is a legal system which has values, which can argue and assess, not simply process.
A beautifully worked piece, emotional, forthright, intense. Kieslowski's world, here, has none of the glamour of the 'Three Colours'. This is a plain, bland world, where decisions have to be made, and where the oppression of the little decisions can be as significant as the political and legal denial of the right to make decisions or follow conscience. This is an absorbing narrative into which you are drawn and with which you can sympathise - a film you can watch again and again and absorb different nuances.
The DVD is excellent, with highly informative interviews and the bonus of a Kieslowski documentary. Excellent value.