It’s not often that one thinks about old-fashioned values when viewing independent cinema, but Theresa Connelly has adeptly combined classic Hollywood romanticism with a fresh and vital look at love and blood ties that manages to spark such a response. Polish Wedding centers on a Polish-American family, the kind of working-class clan that was a staple of the studio productions of the thirties and forties, at once real and ideal, charming, eccentric, and proud.
Lena Olin heads a wonderful cast as the still-sexy-and-smart matriarch of a large, traditional household in a Detroit community. Her husband, played by Gabriel Byrne, is a baker. A more sensitive and restrained soul, he calmly produces breads and sweets while he forges a special bond with his daughter Hala, the tempestuous eye of the family storm. Like her mother, she is an indomitable force. Full of adolescent desire and anger, she gets involved with a handsome cop in a manner that emphasizes the aptness of the title. Claire Danes is perfect in this role she seems born to play: part rebel, part seductress, but also strong and forceful, and always guided by an inner compass that directs her unerringly toward what she must do. Connelly displays a deft directorial touch, fashioning a family drama that is touching and whimsical but steadfastly committed to the genuine love and loyalty that familial bonds inspire. Peopled with honest, resonant characters, Polish Wedding is a triumph of feminine spirit and insight on both sides of the camera.
Theresa Connelly, Director
Theresa Connelly grew up in Detroit in the neighborhood protrayed in Polish Wedding, which marks her debut as a film writer/director. In 1994 she was invited to both the Screenwriters and Filmmakers Labs at Sundance. Connelly has been awarded fellowships to Yaddo, Ragdale, and Helene Wurlitzer artist colonies. She attended Barnard College but left to travel and study literature at Leningrad State Univcersity. She also studied in Marseilles, Paris, and Belin. After returning to New York, she directed on off-off Broadway.
— Geoffrey Gilmore