The Decalogue is a series of ten films loosely based on the ten commandments.
At a glance, it would be easy to write off Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue as religious propaganda or something similar, but that does not seem to be the intention. This is not a heavy handed approach to religion, or even morality. Though there are ten films in the series, each film does not explicitly follow a single commandment. In fact, the series focuses more on people than religion. The films are simple but powerful and though originally shot for Polish television, they are shot beautifully. The quality of the picture is not amazing and the translation seems a bit loose at times, but once you find yourself wrapped up in the story, you likely won’t even notice these things.
On Christmas Eve, a taxi driver named Janusz (Daniel Olbrychski) attending mass with his family runs into a woman, Ewa (Maria Pakulnis), he had an affair with several years prior. Later that evening, Ewa comes looking for Janusz to help find her husband, who is apparently missing. Janusz lies and tells his wife that his tax was stolen and he and Ewa go out driving around. Janusz is eager to get home to his family but Ewa persists. Eventually Janusz sees through Ewa’s plan, but does not say anything right away, but after spending the entire night driving around together, Ewa comes clean.
Decalogue III is possibly the smallest film in scope so far of the series. The film is largely just Janusz and Ewa driving around and there is fairly minimal dialogue as well. We learn a lot of Janusz and Ewa at a personal level and we can infer much about their personalities. Janusz cares greatly for his family but he also seems to have feelings for Ewa, though maybe not necessarily on a sexual level. Janusz does nearly succumb to weakness, but when he doesn’t he seems relieved more than anything. The main issue I had with Decalogue III is probably the pacing. There are long stretches with little to no dialogue and my interest started waning a few times. Still, the humanistic relationships built in an hour are better than most movies with twice the length.
I give it 4 out of 5.