The commandment "Thou shalt not steal" doesn't only refer to property. It also covers the various ways we take from others their freedom, dignity, love, or understanding. When Ewa (Anna Polony) was a headmistress at a school, her sixteen-year-old daughter Majka (Maja Barelkowska) had an affair with Wojtek (Boguslaw Linda), a teacher. She got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. It was deemed to be in the best interests of all for Ewa to raise the baby as her own. Now six years later, Majka has decided she wants little Ania (Katarzyna Piwowarczyk) to love her like a mother.
When Ewa and the little girl go the theatre, Majka is waiting backstage and takes Ania, saying they will play a trick on "Mommy." While Ania is having a ride on a carousel she tells her that she is her real mother. A visit with Wojtek, who now sells teddy bears, is rife with tension and unresolved issues from the past. He believes the best thing for Majka to do is to return home. He's concerned about Ania's nightmares and her screams in the night.
Meanwhile, Ewa and her husband are searching for them. In one telling moment, they admit that they know so little about Majka that they don't even know where to begin looking for her. Majka finally calls Ewa and orders her to give permission for Ania to leave the country so she can take her to Canada.
This emotionally rich drama written and directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski presents a fruitful meditation upon the subtle and not-so-subtle ways we steal the love from someone else's life. At one point Majka says, "Can you steal something that is yours?" The answer is yes, you can take back what is yours but the consequences must be weighed carefully.
The victim in this powerful story is not the domineering Ewa or the vengeful Majka; it is the bewildered Ania. She is a pawn in the power struggle between her mother and grandmother. What is the antidote to stealing and taking what is precious from others? Practice loving-kindness.