Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Some films are bleak. Some films are beautiful. Some films are unremitting trawls through the shadows of human nature, harrowing depictions of senselessness and its aftermath. That is Echo.

Little things acquire significance: massaging wrists, rainfall, the cramped back of a police van, a quarry, a reconstruction. There is a low rumble, ominous, a psychiatrist walking Damian and Arek through the process of killing their friend. A policewoman lies on a tarpaulin. There is a dummy. Victoria is dead. In the rain, the police watching, cheese sandwiches in the quarry at what might be lunch-time. Blank looks. A chair that acquires significance from its context, as meaningful as the chair in The Lives Of Others, furniture that ceases to be furniture, becomes frightening territory. It is cold where Magda lies, the boys reconstructing their crime around her, it is wet and it is raining.

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Radomir Rospandek plays Arek, Marek Kossakowski plays Damian, both play off each other. Reflecting, confronting, attempting to reconcile what is happening with what has happened. Radomir is a newcomer, Marek has some experience, but that doesn't matter. This is a stunning piece of work for all involved.

This is apparently a student film, written and directed by Magnus von Horn, but the 'apparently' is because this is so polished and poised that it seems almost impossible that this is a debut work. The performances, the script, subtle moments where focus shifts, all suggest a confidence in working that belies von Horn's inexperience.

An award winner, deservedly so; every component has a rightness and solidity to it that exposes the wrongness and weakness of what it depicts. If this is an Echo, audiences should look forward to more noise from Von Horn. The Sarah Fogg song, Alexander Tansman's score, the cinematography of Mikolaj Sygula and Malgorzata Szylak, but under it all von Horn's vision.

Not just an echo, ripples - water abounds, from the sky on the ground, in eyes, repercussions and recriminations. The weariness of Piotr Skiba's psychiatrist, the darting eyes of Victoria's parents, spastic attempts towards escape, a keening howl of incomprehension, emptiness, emptiness. Ripples are where there is motion but between them is stillness, an echo is less than a ghost, a ripple of air, of sound. This is astonishing, and it deserves to be heard; one might say seen, but it is so dark where Echo takes us that it might seem as if there is no light, that there is no escape. There may not be, but that is no reason to avoid it.

Reviewed on: 05 Feb 2012
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Two boys are forced to face up to their crime.
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Read more Echo reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ****1/2

Director: Magnus von Horn

Writer: Magnus von Horn

Starring: Radomir Rospondek, Marek Kossakowski, Piotr Skiba, Dorota Segda, Leon Charewicz, Kamila Sammler, Mariusz Siudzinski, Ewa Suchanek

Year: 2008

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: Poland


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