Kino Mania: Body/Ciało (2015)

Starring: Maja Ostaszewska, Janusz Gajos, Justyna Suwała
Directed by: Małgorzata Szumowska

The title of Małgorzata Szumowska’s latest film seems to say it all about her cinematic oeuvre. Body is indeed very nearly a cinematic manifesto addressed to a mainstream audience.

Once again, Szumowska regularly uses the camera to investigate the inextricable relation between mind and body, this time with the grief in the background after the denial phase is through. Szumowska explains: “Body is a film about dead souls and characters who want to believe in an afterlife”.

Olga (Justyna Suwała) is the anorexic daughter of the attorney Janusz (Gajos). Both still cannot deal with the recent loss of Olga’s mother. Janusz, who is working hard and drinking harder to overcome the tragedy, has to step in and force Olga to return to a clinic to have her mental illness treated. The encounter between the girl and a bizarre and solitary psychotherapist Anna (Maja Ostaszewska) suddenly reshuffles the deck of their emotional lives.

Szumowska displays the crime scenes visited by Janusz and Olga’s therapy group sessions with the cold-heartedness typical of Greek Weird Wave auteurs. Even the esoteric soul-healing programme conducted by Anna is deliberately filmed with impersonality. Eventually the Polish filmmaker opts for laughter as a liberating tool for putting some humanity back into the characters of her intriguing black dramedy.

She picked up the Silver Bear for best director at the 65th Berlinale for her latest effort.

Score: ★★★☆☆

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