Chronicle Sitges 2018: “Fugue”; I am no longer that
One of the great challenges to overcome of the first directors who hit a real bombshell with their debut are the expectations that are generated around everything they will do next. This has been the case of Agnieszka Smocynska , director of the wonderfully excessive “The Lure” , a powerful debut that surprised at festivals such as Sundance and was an absolute success in its premiere on Filmin. Well, three years later, the young director presents her second work, “Fugue” , present at the Critics’ Week in Cannes and now premiered in Spain by the Sitges Festival. A continuation not without risks of which we can already consider as one of the most interesting Polish and European filmmakers of recent years.
What is it?
From the tunnel of a subway station, a woman appears, who stands on the platform and urinates before the astonished gaze of the other passengers. He does not know who he is or where he is. Two years later, her family finds her, forcing her to regain her place as mother, wife and daughter, and adding her to the fascinating list of women in crisis that recent horror films have given us.
The new Polish cinema has us in love. If in this past Atlàntida Film Fest we vibrate with the disturbing “Tower: A bright day” by Jagoda Szelc, Smocynska confirms her good health with “Fugue” , a risky second job that supposes a change of absolute record for the director that fascinated us with the lights and the glitter of “The Lure”. From a musical comedy starring two vampire sirens to atmospheric drama about trauma and memory.
Who goes out?
In this case, the one who leaves well could be worth to us who is behind. And it is that Smocynska has not been alone in the conception of ” Fugue”, because the script is signed exclusively by the protagonist of the film, Gabriela Muskala , a long-distance Polish actress who debuts for the first time in her career at the head of the libretto. The strong connection he establishes with his character becomes palpable in each and every one of the scenes he stars in, of a rawness and nudity that overwhelm.
What is it?
“Tower: A Bright Day” + “Forget me” in its darkest (and European) version
What does it offer?
Reception between the amazement and the division on the part of the critic, the new work of Agnieska Smocynska has supposed a radical change in appearance with respect to “The Lure” , that embraced the fantastic one of a much more literal way to re imagine the disturbing tale of ” The Little Mermaid “ by Hans Christian Andersen to take him to communist Poland and neon lights of the eighties. On this occasion, the disruptive element is a disease as terrifying as amnesia, which deprives the protagonist of her identity and throws her into a present without a past in which there is nothing but the now. A dark subway tunnel and its light at the end mark the beginning of this escape masterfully interpreted by Gabriela Muskala , a powerful female character who challenges the role that society imposes on her as a caregiver and abandons her husband and children after a mysterious incident. Years later, she was discovered in Warsaw after suffering a panic attack and her family managed to reunite with her. What could be expected as a happy celebration soon becomes uncomfortable situations and indigestible family meals where Muskala refuses to recognize herself in those now strange people, because now, she is no longer that.
Giving a twist to the gender roles that anchor women in the family nucleus and turn their escape into the biggest of the taboos, Smocynka builds a psychological drama at the touch of uncomfortable situations with a film that does not correspond to what we would all expect from his cinema after a work as dazzlingly unique as “The Lure” . Who nothing risks nothing wins, and although Fugue may be much less surprising than its predecessor in conception, is the confirmation of the strong talent of its director, who on this occasion has shown us that a powerful cinematographic temper supported by the magnificent interpretation of its protagonist.