Starring: Gabriela Muskała, Łukasz Simlat, Małgorzata Buczkowska
Directed by: Agnieszka Smoczyńska
It’s not worth bringing cinematic legends into Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s second feature film to legitimate her work. Yes, Fugue (Polish: Fuga) comes with a Shining-esque “children shoulder shot”, but Smoczyńska’s self-sustaining talent is capable of shining with its own light even without the sequins from her daring debut effort The Lure (2015).
The Polish filmmaker is not planning to release a saga of the four elements, but Fugue relies heavily on earth while The Lure was rather a “coming-of-water” tale. Alicja (Gabriela Muskała) is a woman struck by memory loss who is catapulted back into the reality of her upper bourgeois family in Wrocław after wandering alone in Warsaw for two years. Alicja, who refuses to adopt her “real” name (Kinga), needs the earth and its soil to put back together the pieces of her identity, just like the mermaids of her previous film are desperate for water to survive on the land. One of the sequences of Fugue shows a CGI image of her brain literally blooming with flowers. Alicja/Kinga cannot pluck all the flowers from her past as the woman can recall only details and not people.
More a drama than a thriller, despite the nocturnal peregrinations of the protagonist, Smoczyńska’s sophomore film is a poignant take on the process of learning anew how to experience beauty and emotions in a rootless present. Fugue also establishes Muskała, who co-penned the script, as one of the most gifted thespians of contemporary Polish cinema. Quite well-received in Cannes and hailed in Gdynia, still, Fugue could crush the hopes of the viewers pursuing extravagance or originality at any cost.