Polish cinema was always trapped in the confines of its own history trauma and social problems, which always kind of excluded the Polish films from being acclaimed by broader audiences. The new feature by Małgorzata Szumowska already proved to be “not-only-internally watchable” – it received the main prize during Berlinale festival. The Polish director weaves for us a complex web of mazes in which ordinary people are trapped. Apart from all the bitterness – “Body/Ciało” leaves you with a warming ray of happiness and hope in the heart. When a prosecutor’s wife dies, he’s left with an only child – Olga – who suffers from deep psychologically-backgrounded problems, which as a consequence leads to anorexia. Despite that, the relationship between the father and daughter is in ruin, as Olga blames the prosecutor for the death of her beloved mother. When Olga is put in a psychological ward, she participates in the treatment led by Anna, who claims to be a psychic. Olga, completely distraught and weak, begins to believe that Anna is her only chance to contact mother again.
Szumowska tells her story in a very subtle way, letting the actors to fully dig into the tenebrous reality and take advantage of the tangled relations bonding the characters. Janusz Gajos as the prosecutor and Maja Ostaszewska playing Anna put sublime performances on stage, giving also field to an astonishing debut by Justyna Szuwała. “Body/Ciało” provokes to think in a non-strident manner, engaging in a manner as a play in the theatre, a bit hermetic and claustrophobic – portraying the minute worlds of us all, bit by bit broken with sorrow.
Emotions are what really grasps the attention of the director – Szumowska looks for tiny gestures, like eyes looking the other way and hidden smiles. The magical, elfin final scene is one of the most mezmerizing studies of tenderness I have ever seen, touching on many levels and warming even the coldest ones. “Ciało/Body” is a tale about a broken family, but also about how we deal with tragedy and how do we perceive the loss of someone close to us. The life’s irony hits you hard in this one – the down-to-earth prosecutor starts to believe in psychic just to retrieve some of the long-time buried and lost delicacy and faith, that deep inside, his daughter needs a father more than anytime before.
All in all, I have to say I was really charmed by “Body/Ciało”. It’s beautifully directed, sometimes kinky in its own way, sometimes haunting – never leaves you bored. the picture is also perfectly enhanced by the soundtrack – old-time Polish classics enrich the pallette of emotions, which Szumowska offers. And not being over-hyped about this movie – I am proud to be Polish and hope to see more of films like that in the future – directed not only by Małgorzata Szumowska.