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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 07/30/1998,

Polish Wedding

The women of the Pzoniak family inspire much head turning -- and head shaking -- in their Detroit neighborhood. Matriarch Jadzia (a feral Lena Olin) trysts the night away with her burly lover (Rade Serbedzija); meanwhile her wild-child daughter Hala (Claire Danes) is discovering that she too sends men panting. But when Jadzia's cuckolded husband (Gabriel Byrne) gets suspicious and Hala's licentious streak lands her in trouble, the hot-blooded Pzoniaks threaten to combust.

In the tradition of Moonstruck, first-time writer/director Theresa Connelly strives to limn a wacky yet passionate ethnic clan. What she achieves instead is a family portrait of crudely etched stereotypes set to accordion music. Worst of all is the film's risible innuendo: as Hala makes love to a doltish cop (Adam Trese), Connelly cuts to a traffic light flashing red, then yellow (Stop! Caution!). Between the overwrought symbolism and the leaden dialogue, this saga settles more heavily than Jadzia's pirogi.

-- Alicia Potter