Review: The Art of Loving: Story of Michalina Wislocka

Michalina Wislocka was a Polish gynecologist and sexologist. In the late 1970s, she managed, after a long struggle, to get a guide to sexual happiness called The Art of Loving published. The Art of Loving: Story of Michalina Wislocka (Sztuka kochania. Historia Michaliny Wisłockiej) is based on her true story.

Piotr Adamczyk, Magdalena Boczarska, and Justyna Wasilewska in The Art of Loving

Born in 1921, Michalina Wislocka (Magdalena Boczarska) lived an unconventional life. As a young woman she lived with both Stach (Piotr Adamczyk) and Wanda (Justyna Wasilewska). Both women had children by Stach. Early on they told the children they were both Michalina’s, but as time went by and the threesome split up, the truth came out.

Later she had an affair with a married man (Eryk Lubos). A torrid affair, much more so than her relationship with Stach had been. (There is explicit sex and nudity in the film.)

From early in her career she dealt with birth control, abortion, menstruation, and sexuality. She particularly fought to educate both men and women in the art of female orgasm. Her talks about sex to both men and women was blunt and to the point. No hidden meanings or euphemisms. She was a straight talker.

She wrote her book and shopped it around to dozens of publishers. She was pushed from the Catholic Church to the Communist Party and back again. No publisher – all of them male – would publish her book. Most considered it p0rn0graphy.

Women flocked to her office, waiting hours to see her. Underground copies of her writing got out. The wives of some influential men, including generals, took matters into their hands and insisted the book be published. And finally, after years of rejections, The Art of Loving made it into print. It was the first guide to sexual life published in a Communist country. About 7 million copies have sold since it was published..

The film jumped around in time from one period of Michalina’s life to another. There was usually a year announced in a title on the screen when we went through one of the time jumps, but even with that hint, I found it difficult to follow sometimes. The same actress, Magdalena Boczarska, played her at every age. Except for a bit of gray hair toward the end, she basically looked the same at every age. But as the story progressed, it became easier to see her career struggles, her personal life, and her publishing saga in one coherent timeline.

The Art of Loving: Story of Michalina Wislocka (Sztuka kochania. Historia Michaliny Wisłockiej) was directed by Maria Sadowska. Although it isn’t a must see film, I recommend it as an interesting gem of history about a pioneering woman. If you are Polish or speak Polish, it will be very meaningful to you.

The Art of Loving: Story of Michalina Wislocka (Sztuka kochania. Historia Michaliny Wisłockiej) is currently streaming on Netflix.

THE ART OF LOVING – Official Trailer from Be For Films on Vimeo.

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