Exiled Polish writer/director Jerzy Skolimowski made Moonlighting as a response to the sudden and dramatic imposition of Martial Law in his home country, which occurred after the Solidarity uprising.
Jeremy Irons swapped his Brideshead Revisited blazers for cement-splattered overalls to play Nowak, the English-speaking foreman of a group of Polish builders who arrive in Britain from Warsaw in 1981 (without work permits) to renovate the west London home of their rich Polish boss back home.
The work proceeds apace until the military coup in Poland suddenly turns the builders into unwilling exiles and creates bitter divisions within the group.
The film was shot in Skolimowski’s own home in Kensington, which had just been renovated. The production returned the house to its original, grotty state, which involved knocking down partition walls which had just been put up.
One of the actors was, in fact, a Polish refugee who had been trapped in England when the situation worsened and was stranded with no money. Jerzy Skolimowski happened to meet him in the street one day and he turned out to be not only an amateur actor but a builder as well.
One person who wasn’t happy about the project was Skolimowski’s wife, who became distressed that her home had been reduced to a shambles. She and their two children stayed in a hotel during the filming.
It was all worth it, though, when Moonlighting won the Best Scenario award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Despite being made by Channel Four for broadcast on television, a number of prints were made for a small theatrical release in London during the summer of 1982 after an art-house film distributor saw it and thought it worthy of a cinema release.
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