Despite having to achieve this effect in the editing suite, where Gryczełowska manipulated her material, the 1960s critics praised the simplicity of her realistic observation. The director’s emblematic compassion for her on-screen character often allows the camera to assume Jadwiga’s perspective, which is tiresome and as tedious as the landscape between the tower blocks where she lives.
Having an older teenage daughter at home, as well as a toddler, Jadwiga takes night shifts at a factory so as to take care of her children when her husband is at work. She leaves the house at night and comes back home at dawn to go to bed for a few hours. When she wakes up, she cooks, cleans and picks up her little boy from the nursery. After dinner, she goes to bed again and then says good-bye to her husband and daughter before she shuts the flat’s door behind her to go to work again.
The film draws its power of impressing on the viewer with its formal structure. Jadwiga L. never speaks to the camera, and her silence takes on a symbolic dimension. She hardly speaks at all and as such, appears to be a powerless individual with no means to change her everyday reality. Her gender-based social role leads her to perform a mechanical chain of chores; her personal goals and ambitions are muted by her devotion to her family.
The 24 Hours of Jadwiga L. is available on DVD with English subtitles.