WITH A TRAILER that features a rape scene, spousal abuse, and a mother shaking her child's crib in fury in the middle of the night, it's pretty safe to assume that 2012 Polish film To Love (also known as Loving), despite its simple, amorous title, is decidedly not a romantic comedy. Consider this your trigger warning.
Writer/director Slawomir Fabicki’s feature-length revolves around married, financially comfortable 30-somethings Maria (Julia Kijowska) and Tomek (Marcin Dorocinski). He’s an architect, she works in promotion and development with the city council, and they’re expecting their first child. Crazy in love, the two are ready to explore this new chapter of life together.
Everything changes when the mayor makes it very clear that he’s attracted to Maria, casting long, obvious looks her way and holding her a bit too close while dancing at their tony work soirees.
Rather than telling the man to leave the love of his life and mother of his unborn child alone (Maria even voices that the attention of her superior makes her uncomfortable), Tomek reassures his wife that “there’s nothing wrong with him finding you attractive,” adding, “the fact that he likes you can help us.”
Long looks turn into close watching and stalking. When Maria, mere weeks from delivery, is assaulted by the mayor, she neither reports the rape to the police nor tells Tomek. What ensues is an exploration in testing the boundaries of marriage and love, an unflinching dissection of life’s most difficult questions.
To Love was inspired by a 2008 newspaper article detailing a case of sexual abuse in the Olszytn city council, written by a victim’s husband. Critics have praised Fabicki for not sensationalizing the difficult content, but rather forcing the audience to scrutinize the way the protagonists relate to each other.
Exploring themes of trust, closeness, desire, and security, To Love is certainly not an easy watch, but its brutal truth fetched it awards at the 2013 European Film Festival, Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece, and a major win with 'Best Film' at Vilnius International Film Festival. It's only been shown a handful of times in the U.S.: lovers of psychological cinema and up-and-coming directors, mark your calendars.