Magazine article Screen International

Body

Magazine article Screen International

Body

Article excerpt

Dir: Malgorzata Szumowska. Poland. 2015. 90mins

A quirky, intriguing drama with supernatural overtones sees Polish director Malgorzata Szumowskashift into an unexpected, and refreshing, darkly comic mode as she explores, in the interlinked stories of three characters, the intimate though often unbalanced rapport between mind and body, the supposedly eternal soul and the supposedly temporary here and now.

Body is fresh and original enough to attract some arthouse interest in selected territories.

It plays a bit like a Krzysztof Kieslowski film with a sense of humour; all that's missing is that great Polish director's way with a script. Better at beginnings and middles than endings, Szumowska sets up a premise of rich, novelistic potential, but wraps it like a clichéd short story. There is, however, plenty to enjoy along the way - not least the performance of three fine actors inhabiting three memorable characters _ especially veteran Janusz Gajos's bitter police chief and Maja Ostaszewska's New Age therapist. Though it lacks the Binoche-bait of her 2011 film Elles, Body is fresh and original enough to attract some arthouse interest in selected territories.

The wonderful opening scene establishes both Body's darkly deadpan sense of humour and its major theme. The corpulent, bad-tempered, never-named criminal prosecutor played by Gajos is called to a riverside location where a man has apparently hung himself. After his body is cut down, the man gets up and staggers off. The prosecutor returns home to his moody, severely anorexic teenage daughter Olga; it becomes clear, even before she reveals it in therapy, that she hates her gruff, unsympathetic, hard-drinking father and misses the mother who died five years before - a mother whose room in the down-at-heel apartment is a no-go area.

After she makes a cry-for-help suicide attempt, the prosecutor drags Olga to a clinic for eating disorders and tells them to keep her. …

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