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Part of our coverage of the 27th Denver International Film Festival

Tomorrow’s Weather is a little Polish film about an older man’s reunion with his wife and children. Jerzy Stuhr directs and stars in this film. If you’ve seen him in any of Krzystof Kieslowski’s films, you’ll recognize his memorable face — wide and round with thick eyebrows and big Polish lips.

The Fall of Poland

Stuhr goes back home after 17 years in hiding
Stuhr goes back home after 17 years in hiding

Stuhr plays J√≥zef, a monk, who opens the movie singing at a street festival with his fellow brothers. His wife and son spot him — he had vanished, leaving them penniless almost 17 years ago to hide out from the Communist crackdown on the Solidarity movement. They confront and expose him, and he gets kicked out of the monastery. With nowhere else to go, he comes home to live in the family’s garage.

Nowadays, his family is going through trying times. The youngest daughter deals drugs, spends too much time on-line, and dirty-dances with strangers at clubs while her boyfriend watches. The eldest daughter is exposing herself in a cage on TV’s hottest reality show. She’ll get married to the top phone-in vote getter for the season finale, and their consummation will be broadcast live.

The eldest son works for a politician for whom truth and integrity are quaint notions. Their choice of an amoral political campaign is not based on harsh reality, but a matter of convenience. His son uses the word “solidarity” — a charged word that in Poland calls to mind the labor resistance of the 1980s — to talk about both candidates being in cahoots against the taxpayers of Poland.

To make matters worse, father is powerless to effect any change. Without an legal identity, and having been sheltered for 17 years, he might as well not exist. Even in his “bedroom” he hardly exists — mom’s new boyfriend uses the garage to fix up cars. The only job he can land is chauffeur to his son’s horrible candidate, a job he gets mostly from pity.

Nevertheless, he sets out to find a way to make things right in his family.

To Politicize or Not To Politicize

Tomorrow’s Weather shares some of the same moral themes of other films at the 27th Denver International Film Festival. With a focus on Germany, there are many films inspired by the societal changes since the fall of Communism. For example The Other Woman, a German film offers a less mainstream, but more thoughtful portrait of the clash between two societal mores — one from before the fall, one from after.

But watching Tomorrow’s Weather doesn’t feel like an exercise in political discourse. Instead it’s a light drama, sprinkled with bits of inoffensive broad comedy. It’s the kind of movie I would recommend to my parents.

In fact, I think it will appeal almost exclusively to those old enough to have children. A story that says the next generation of free Poles needs the guidance of a father who has been absent, out of touch, and raised in a Communist society, is a message that modern youth probably don’t want to hear.

Youth appeal is further blunted by the harmless, edgeless comedy. Monks playing electric guitars barely offers a chuckle. A father worrying about his daughter’s promiscuity is — except for the promiscuity, maybe — pure vanilla sitcom.

For my money, I’d rather see the meatier The Other Woman. But for something less heavy and more purely “entertaining,” while still tapping that post-Communist nerve, Tomorrow’s Weather is a good alternative.