Wild Roses


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Wild Roses
"Low key and unfussy, Wild Roses gradually builds up tension through small observations and the skilled performances of its two female leads."

The cultivation of wild roses is a potent metaphor at the heart of Anna Jadowska’s film, and the only unsubtle thing about it. We plunge into the narrative after several of its central events have taken place but before a crucial decision has been taken. No explanations are given. The viewer is invited simply to observe because, in the end, it is this period of reflection that everything else depends on.

Ewa (Marta Nieradkiewicz) has been in hospital. She is only now returning to her village home, to her husband and two children. Her daughter Marysia (Natalia Bartnik) doesn’t seem too thrilled about it; she doesn’t really know why her mother went away but she’s resentful and confused. It’s clear that Marysia’s father isn’t too happy to see Ewa again, for all that he’s quick to have her resume her assorted wifely duties. An answer appears in the form of a teenage boy who makes desperate pleas outside the back door – but if this is what it appears to be, it seems less an explanation than a symptom of a deeper malaise.

Copy picture

Out in the fields, amid the long grass and rose bushes, one can imagine tourists drinking in the beauty of the landscape, loving the late summer days. Ewa moves through it as if walking along the corridors of a prison. Marysia, just beginning to develop that alertness to the wider world that will see her into adulthood, is beginning to look about her in the same way. A comment she makes about her toddler brother being her father’s favourite hints at a world of female discontent.

Low key and unfussy, Wild Roses gradually builds up tension through small observations and the skilled performances of its two female leads. Little details are loaded with import. The peeling paint on a doorframe, little stains on pieces of clothing: tokens of neglect. A circle of people gathered round a fire at night and Ewa on the outside. The quick glances that neighbours throw her way. And then there’s the mother of the heartbroken youth.

Slow-paced but laden with portent, Wild Roses is a thoughtful, mature piece of cinema and a further sign that Jadowska is worth keeping an eye on.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2018
Share this with others on...
Wild Roses packshot
A young woman returns from a hospital stay to find rumours circulating in her village.

Director: Anna Jadowska

Writer: Anna Jadowska

Starring: Marta Nieradkiewicz, Michal Zurawski, Natalia Bartnik

Year: 2017

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Poland


Glasgow 2018

Search database:

If you like this, try:

The Noonday Witch