Tonia's story is a harrowing one. Real or imaginary doesn't matter: the story has sufficient power to make the viewer cringe several times during the performance.
Tonia is a bubble-headed actress when we first meet her; little more than a self-obsessed good-time girl. She falls into a nightmarish prison landscape worthy of Kafka by way of a simple night out to spite her husband for an imagined slight and things get worse from there.
Initially her defiance of the system seems to stem from her inability to understand her predicament; later it becomes apparent that she is made of sterner stuff than almost all around her -- including her sadistic interrrogators.
It is this core of steel which makes her such an interesting character; and the film's exploration of her simple defiance is well-handled: punchy camera shots, harsh lighting; gradual physical deterioration of Tonia's appearance.
The subtitles are well done -- not intrusive or gratingly translated. The denouement is heart-wrenching without being sentimental.
The astonishing thing is how this film slipped through the censor's net in 1982 -- even if they were preoccupied with Solidarnosc and martial law. The bonus material gives some insight into this.
Worth a couple of hours of anyone's time.