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By Ilana Lindsey | December 7, 1998

One would hope that a film that boasts a cast containing Gabriel Byrne, Lena Olin, and Claire Danes would have something entertaining to offer – an interesting performance or two at the very least. Unfortunately, writer/director Theresa Connelly’s debut feature is a messy conglomeration of unconvincing poetics and dull slapstick comedy. While there is no clear protagonist the story basically revolves around Chala Pzoniak, played forgettably by Danes, as a young second-generation Polish girl exploring her sexuality in Detroit. She’s elected to lead her church’s March of the Virgin days after discovering that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, her parent’s marriage is slowly disintegrating primarily because Chala’s mother (Olin) is having an affair. Eventually the different tensions and events converge in a sloppy climax in which many people run around shouting.
As a character driven study of a family, the film tries to focus on the tension created by the merging of old and new worlds and values. The narrative, however, is haphazardly structured and never gives one any reason to be interested in the lives of the rather silly characters. Connelly’s awkward direction demonstrates no flair for the cinematic and she elicits stiff, jerky performances from normally impressive actors. The dialogue is simply bizarre and sprinkled with oddly anachronistic phrases. How likely is a teenager in contemporary Detroit to say, “scram,” or, “Stick that in your pipe and smoke it”? Ultimately, the story is uninvolving, indecipherable and dull with amateurish editing making some plot elements unintentionally mysterious.

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