It Looks Pretty From A Distance

It Looks Pretty From A Distance


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Polish Tourist Board won't be using this film from husband and wife team Wilhelm Sasnel and Anka to advertise their beautiful countryside any time soon, as they suggest that the country has a heart of darkness.

This is a bleak portrait of rural poverty that, like the bear trap set in the woods in the opening scene, holds unexpected and violent surprises. Life is grim for this remote Polish village, not least because it seems the art of conversation has been virtually lost. Pawel (Marcin Czarnik) lives with his dementia-hit mother (Elzbieta Okupska), occasionally breaking up cars for scrap with his brother and engaging in a virtually wordless relationship with his neighbour's daughter (Agnieszka Podsiadlik). When he and his family disappear, the community reaction is anything but benign.

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There is so little plot here, in fact, that you struggle to find it, with the Sasnels more interested in atmosphere and the dismantling of society. Although featuring some nice camerawork, the refusal to give their film more of a narrative arc feels often feels like wilful neglect. The near-silent interactions of this small group of people, while intriguing to a point, soon become more tiresome than anything else and undermine the feeling of realism - that two or three people in a community wouldn't talk much is likely but that all of them should conduct their daily lives in virtual silence is hard to swallow.

The sound - by Igor Klaczynski - deserves special mention as it is this that underscores the film's most unsettling moments, particularly a scene in which Pawel's mother screams repeatedly in two notes which rise to blend with some simple, symphonic scoring. Grim and unremitting, it's hard to go the distance.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2012
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When a scrap merchant vanishes from a small Polish town, it sets in motion an unexpected chain of events.

Director: Anka Sasnal, Wilhelm Sasnal

Writer: Anka Sasnal, Wilhelm Sasnal

Starring: Marcin Czarnik, Piotr Nowak, Elzbieta Okupska, Jerzy Lapinski, Hanna Chojnacka, Michal Pietrzak, Oskar Karas, Dawid Wolski, Waldemar Czyszak, Agnieszka Podsiadlik

Year: 2011

Runtime: 77 minutes

Country: Poland

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