Nowak (Irons) leads a small team of Polish building contractors, hired by a wealthy Pole to illegally refurbish his London home. They slip into England under false pretenses and squat in the house as they work on it–but shortly after they arrive, the military take over Poland and declare martial law (this real event happened in December of 1981). Only Nowak speaks English, so only he knows this has happened; fearing that if the others find out, they’ll stop working, he decides not to tell them. As he starts stealing and scamming to stretch their rapidly vanishing money, Nowak grows increasingly paranoid and mentally fragile. Moonlighting is a political allegory and a psychological portrait, but thanks to Irons’ sympathetic performance, the movie is also rivetingly suspenseful.
Jerzy Skolimowski’s “Moonlighting” is an outstanding achievement in many respects. Not only does it contain one of the most fulfilling performances that has ever been put to the screen, but it also serves as a political allegory, a smartly-told drama, and a unique exercise in creating suspense.