Magdalena Piekorz proves that she is the go-to Polish filmmaker when it comes to exploring the real nature of modern relationships.
With her third drama, Zbliżenia (Close Ups) director Magdalena Piekorz proves that she is the go-to Polish filmmaker when it comes to exploring the real nature of modern relationships. Her portrayal of a toxic mother-daughter bond in Close Ups is a cautionary tale about what it means to be an adult in the 21st century.
The film tells the story of Marta, a beautiful blonde in her late 30s, and her overbearing, but fascinating, mother. Both are artists – Marta is a sculptor, her mother a painter. They both have extrovert natures, which mean they experience everything very intensely, but at the same time with a degree of detachment.
The two women’s fervent and loving relationship is what pretty much defines their lives. So when Jacek, Marta’s love interest, tries to find a deeper connection and build a relationship with her, it becomes apparent that she is not ready to cut the cord with mum. Marta’s life is constantly interrupted by her mother, either calling her and insisting on visiting, which always finishes up transformed into dramatic encounters between a daughter and a mother who knows she should let go, but keeps coming back.
Piekorz has created a very intimate drama that will strike a chord with almost every viewer. She has managed to bring out an uncanny chemistry between Ewa Wiśniewska (mother) and Joanna Orleańska (daughter) that brings to life a script built from a series of everyday situations. Her directing style is simple, realistic and intimate. Łukasz Simlat (Jacek) is a great counterpoint to the female energy of both actresses. His supportive role is very economical in style, but very memorable.
Close Ups is a natural next step after two previous films by Piekorz: Pręgi (Welts) and Senność (Drowsiness). The main theme of all her films is an interest in basic human relationships, especially between children and their parents. With her new drama, Piekorz became even more skilled in creating clean, truthful scenes and dialogues that capture the emotional side of dealing with another person. Painful but beautifully shot, each episode in the life of two women plays an important part in Marta’s journey to maturity.
Piekorz is not relying on flashy cinematography, but the pictures created by a renowned Polish director of photography, Marcin Koszałka, have a warmth and softness to them. They do not eclipse the acting, which is the main strength of the film. Skillful editing reflects what Piekorz likes most: slow, close-up gazing at her characters. The overall tempo of this film is contemplative with dramatic outbursts placed in between scenes of everyday life.
The slogan used to promote this film is “all the images of love” and while distributors often get it wrong when they try to sell films, they got it exactly right this time. The brilliantly portrayed relationship of two women is just one feature that sticks. Piekorz is also exploring love between mature people and the possibility of creating something anew when you are strongly set in your ways. Marta desperately needs to grow up before she can start anything new in her life. Talented and beautiful, she is stuck where she is; safe, but also isolated from any new possibilities.
While creating an image of a toxic relationship, Piekorz has also showcased the life of people in their late 30s in the 21st century. She is not interested in the macro-image and big, universal themes, but rather micro flashes of basic human experiences such as family bonds, falling in love and growing up – indeed the universal themes of the atomised society that we have become.
Close-Ups opens in cinemas across Poland on October 24.
Author: Katarzyna Grynienko
Original site: www.thevarsovian.com