Polish Cinema: List of Lovers (Jerzy Stuhr, 1994, Poland)

List of Lovers, made for Polish television in 1994, is the directorial debut of Jerzy Stuhr. Stuhr is a legendary Polish actor, who came to prominence primarily via his roles in the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski, including Camera Buff (1979) and The Decalogue (1989), as well as other classics like 1984's Sexmission. Stuhr's directorial work owes a debt Kieslowski, although, with List of Lovers, it seems he is more indebted to Federico Fellini and Woody Allen. Stuhr plays the lead in the film - Gustav - a professor at the prestigious Jagiellonian University in Krakow. A Swedish professor is visiting, and Gustav is set to show him around Krakow. The Swede grows tired of Gustav's talking about the history of the city and eventually asks where the two men can find some women. Gustav begins going through his literal "book of lovers", jogging his memory of past relationships to find a woman. 

Gustav, whose wife left him two years, is a character who is both sympathetic, as well as repulsive. This dialectic between his ambitions as an academic - a "humanist" - and his baser instincts manifests itself several times throughout the film. At one point, when giving a speech about the statue of the famous Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz in Krakow, Gustav says that he wants to talk about monuments to famous Polish bodies, like Figura. Gustav also clearly thinks that his romantic life is much richer than it is, and fantasizes about his past affairs with rose-colored glasses - as demonstrated by the film's finale, where the memory of a woman and how she appears, in reality, does not match at all. List of Lovers is a minor film, but charming for its exploration of Felliniesque character in a Polish setting. The Krakow scenery is also great and worth watching.


7/10 

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